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DeKalb City Council sets hearing on property tax levy

Published: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

DeKALB – DeKalb residents could see their property tax rate rise based on decisions the City Council makes on the levy in the coming weeks.

The city staff is recommending a tax levy of $10 million, which is higher than the $9.6 million levy they sought last year and covers increased pension costs. The tax levy represents the amount of money the city hopes to collect in property taxes.

“We’re trying to set a ceiling,” said Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu. “This would incorporate all of the city’s pension costs.”

If the $10 million levy is fully implemented, property owners would pay $0.857 per $100 of equalized assessed value on bills due in 2013. They paid $0.72 for every $100 of EAV on bills due this year. The tax rate is the levy divided by the EAV.

Falling property values caused the city’s EAV to drop by 8 percent within the past year.

Espiritu said the council has the authority to impose a smaller levy if it chooses. While the council will discuss the matter at their Tuesday meeting, Espiritu said residents will be able to sound off on the levy at a public hearing during the council’s Nov. 26 meeting.

A vote is planned for their Dec. 10 meeting.

While local governments are able to use the property tax levy to fund operations, Espiritu said that as a policy, not local or state law, the city uses its property taxes to fund its obligated pension costs.

The costs of pensions have gone up, requiring a larger levy for police officers and firefighters. City officials estimate the taxes needed to fund police and fire pensions have increased 25.7 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, over last year.

At their meeting next week, City Council members also will consider the various housing ordinances that were born of the now-defunct Safe and Quality Housing Task Force and different public hearings.

The ordinances include a crime-free lease addendum, crime-free training for the landlords and property managers, a disorderly house ordinance that sets up a “three strikes” system for landlords who don’t address problems on their properties, an exterior inspection program, an annual registration program, and a new city bureau of five people to oversee the new ordinances.

Some of these measures, such as annual registration and the creation of the new bureau, have proved to be controversial among aldermen. Some, such as Aldermen David Jacobson and Dave Baker of the First and Sixth Wards, respectively, have argued that the city should use existing staff and resources to enforce the ordinances.

Because of the Veterans Day holiday, the city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

If you go

What: City Council Meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: DeKalb City Council Chambers, 200 S. 4th St., DeKalb

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