Sycamore freezes its tax levy for 5th year in a row

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

SYCAMORE – Sycamore City Council members decided to freeze the city’s property tax levy for the fifth year in a row.

On Monday, council members voted, 8-0, to keep the tax levy at about $2.6 million to maintain the general operations of city departments and meet pension obligations.

“We voted again to hold the line and the council was pleased with that,” Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said. “And I think in years to come, if our other revenue streams can continue to improve, we can look less and less and less toward the property tax to fund part of city operations.”

Overall assessed property values in the city were projected to sink again. The assessed property values for this year were estimated to be about $345 million, which is roughly 7.15 percent lower than last year. Property values were at their highest in 2009, with an overall assessed property value of about $458 million.

“It seems like the [equalized assessed value] keeps dropping, and fortunately we’ve been able to manage with other sources like sales taxes to make up for it,” said Alan Bauer, 1st Ward alderman.

Since late November, city officials have been discussing several options that increase or decrease the city’s tax levy. With Monday’s vote, council members chose to follow Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory’s recommendation to freeze it again. A public hearing on the tax levy was held Dec. 2.

The city tax rate is expected to be at its highest since 2005, with a tax rate of about 76 cents per $100 of the equalized assessed property value. Last year, the average homeowner owed the city about $424 and the city’s tax rate was about 70 cents per $100 of the EAV.

This year, the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors found the average price of homes sold is $179,945.

The city’s tax levy was one part of a corporate tax levy totaling about $3.5 million. About $971,000 was approved for Sycamore Public Library’s levy, which is a 3 percent increase above last year.

The library’s levy would result in the average homeowner paying between $1.34 and $6.85 more in property taxes next year, according to city records.

About $1.3 million of the city’s property tax levy goes toward fulfilling the city’s pension funds for police and fire departments. The funds also go toward Social Security, Medicare and other retirement funds.

“It’s actually pretty satisfying to know we are able to hold the taxes for the fifth straight year,” Bauer said.

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