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DeKalb property tax levy hearing set for Monday

DeKALB – The residents of DeKalb will be able to sound off Monday on how much of their property taxes should pay for the city’s pension costs.

A public hearing on the property tax levy is scheduled for Monday, with final action on the levy to be taken at the council’s Dec. 10 meeting. The hearing will start at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 200 S. Fourth St.

The DeKalb City Council voted Nov. 13 to cap its property tax levy at $9.67 million, meaning any dollar amount below that is fair game. The revenue collected will be used in the city’s fiscal 2014 budget, which begins in June 2013. If the city received the full amount of its levy request, a property owner would pay 79 cents for each $100 for their property’s equalized assessed value.

Laura Pisarcik, the city’s finance director, said existing homes and businesses should not see their property taxes rise, because property values in the city have dropped by 8 percent. The property tax rate for 2011 taxes paid in 2012 was 72 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value.

“They won’t really see an increase on their property taxes from the city,” Pisarcik said, adding that the city has no control over other local taxing bodies, like school districts and park districts.

Property taxes are time-sensitive.Pisarcik said the city has to set a levy ceiling at least 20 days before passing the ordinance, and that ordinance must be filed with the DeKalb County Treasurer by the end of December.

By setting the ceiling at $9.67 million, the council will be capturing $40,000 in revenue from new construction. Second Ward Alderman Tom Teresinski supported capturing new construction because he felt that the city’s revenue had to increase.

“If we don’t collect the new construction and collect on the [various tax abatements the city has made], we’re effectively lowering our overall tax amount,” Teresinski said.

However, by not setting the ceiling at $10 million, the city is not able to pay for its mandatory pension costs with property taxes alone. It is city policy to use property taxes to fund the pensions of city staff, police officers and firefighters.

Pisarcik said the city would be able to fund all the police and fire pensions, and 45 percent of the pensions of city staff. The other 55 percent will have to be made up from one of the city’s other funds, she added.

Sixth Ward Alderman Dave Baker said he thought that if property taxes were going to be raised to capture revenue from new construction, the money should be used for more than just pensions. He suggested using the money to hire more police officers.

“If we’re not careful, and we earmark for pensions only, we may lose sight of the real needs that are not addressed,” Baker said.

If you go
DeKalb City Council public hearing on property tax levy
When: 7 p.m. Monday (Committee of the Whole meeting - 6 p.m.)
Where: City Hall, 200 S. Fourth St., DeKalb

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