Tax Levy Increase Might Be 1.5%

Memorandum on Tax Levy
A selection of the memorandum on the proposed tax levy by Mark A. Pries, Deputy Village Manager/Finance Director.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The ordinance for the tax levy increase for Park Forest is on the agenda for First Reading on Monday, November 25. This means the item is published for the public and press to chew on, but discussion may not happen yet at a board meeting. As eNews Park Forest first reported, Deputy Village Manager/Finance Director Mark Pries said board members did not arrive at a consensus at the November 2, 2019, Financial Update.

“Options were discussed to have a levy increase between 0.3% and 4.26% with additional discussion coming at a future Board meeting,” Director Pries told eNews Park Forest.

The recommendation coming from staff now is that the Village tax levy increase by 1.5%.

Here are the revised numbers:

  Original
2018 Levy
Extended
2018 Levy
Proposed
2019 Levy
General Corporate $12,042,671 $12,343,598 $12,628,927
Bonds & Interest 263,500 274,483 274,483
IMRF 574,572 588,958 596,086
FICA 525,159 538,316 515,647
Police Pension 2,084,376 2,136,484 2,347,398
Fire Pension 1,352,191 1,385,984 1,461,551
Village Levy $16,842,469 $17,267,823 $17,824,092
Library Levy $2,102,087 $19,422,690 $1,889,938
Proposed Increase over Extended Levy: 1.5% $291,340

These are the recommended adjustments to the 2019 tax levy which bring the originally proposed tax levy from 4.26% to 1.5%.

  • Reduce the Health Insurance increase portion from 10% to 7%
  • Retain the 2% Other Expenditures increase to the tax levy
  • Reduce the amount levied for the Police and Fire Pension funds to an amount needed to reach a 95% funded level.
  • Reduce the Library levy amount by $212,149
  • Maintain a 3.1-month reserve in the General Fund opposed to a 3.0-month reserve

To set at ease the Library trustees who will see a reduction of $212,149 from their originally proposed levy, Director Pries says the following in the November 19 memo he wrote to the Village Board:

The Library tax levy is a separate item on the property tax bill. However, the Village levies property taxes for the Library because the Library does not have the legal authority to do so.

Village staff has proposed to the Library Board a reduction to its levy by approximately 10%. For the last several years, the Library has requested the Village levy $2,102,087 for Library operations. However, Village staff has proposed reducing the amount to $1,889,938 – a reduction of $212,149 – and has provided the Library Board a 10-year analysis showing the Library will remain financially stable with this lower tax levy amount.

The Library Board will decide this matter at their November 21 meeting. Staff has presented the reduced Library levy amount for the first read of the 2019 tax levy ordinance as communication with the Library Board, to this point, has not shown opposition to the proposed reduction.

Director Pries adds:

Maintaining a reserve that is higher than the established minimum of 3 months is significant as it shows the Village can manage its financial responsibilities without over-reliance on its money in the bank. Maintaining the bare-minimum reserve level gives the Village no financial room to take advantage of the grant monies it has historically benefitted from much more than the majority of our surrounding communities. Lastly, if the Village maintains only its bare-minimum reserve level, credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard & Poors) may look on this as an unfavorable practice and lower the Village’s credit rating. This means when the Village issues bonds, it would have a higher interest cost because its credit rating was lowered.

And, regarding the 1.5% increase, Director Pries says in the memo, “The proposed increase of 1.5% is significant for several reasons. First, it is lower than the 1.9% CPI factor that the tax-capped communities around the Village will use to increase their tax levies.”

Director Pries previously noted in the memo, “The Consumer Price Index (CPI) number used in Cook County for communities that are tax capped is 1.9%. The CPI measures inflation so the 1.9% figure means that costs, in general, are expected to increase 1.9% over the next year. Therefore, keeping the 2% amount for Other Expenditures is consistent not only with the current CPI amount but is also consistent with the Village’s current budget practices.”

2018 tax levy pie graph
According to information supplied by the Village, in 2018, property taxes funded a full 60% of the tax levy. (Photo: VOPF)

“Over the last twenty-seven tax levies, only three other tax levies were lower than this year’s 1.5% increase,” Director Pries says in the memo. “Lastly, the sum of the Village’s 2017, 2018 and 2019 levies is 2.3% compared to the surrounding tax-capped communities sum of 6.1% is an extremely important comparison as it shows the Village has minimized the property tax impact to its residents and businesses while continuing to provide consistently excellent services.”

The public hearing for the proposed tax levy is slated for the Monday after Thanksgiving, December 2, at 7:00 PM at the Village Hall Board Room, 350 Victory Drive, Park Forest, Illinois, according to the Village website.

“Any person desiring to appear at the public hearing and present testimony to the taxing Village may contact Mark Pries, Finance Director, telephone 708-283-5607,” the website says.

The Village Board does meet on Monday, November 25, 2019. On that agenda? Water main replacements for Dogwood Street “from Western Ave. to Western Ave.”

Also, cannabis, cannabis, cannabis.

Monday’s meetings begin at 7:00 PM at the Village Hall Board Room.

Related: Park Forest Tax Levy to Rise a Bit, or Much More Than a Bit