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DeKalb County Health Department eyes property tax referendum

Property tax referendum could be on November ballot

DeKALB – It’s not a new property tax referendum, it’s a recycled one.

In a bid to secure future funding for the DeKalb County Health Department, the agency wants to ask voters to support a property tax referendum at the ballot box in November.

The county has been levying a property tax for 20 years to pay off $11.8 million in bonds used to help build the DeKalb County Rehab & Nursing Center and the Public Health Department on Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb.

Those bonds will be retired this year, but DeKalb County Health Department officials want the property tax levy to live on. Once the bonds are paid off, the $650,000 raised by the tax every year would go to fund the health department.

The DeKalb County Health & Human Services Committee will consider the public health tax levy referendum at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the DeKalb County Administration Building’s Conference Room East, 110 E. Sycamore St., Sycamore.

If the committee recommends the proposal, it would go before the county board June 15, DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said.

The property tax would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $22.88 a year; or just less than 4 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value, Hanson said.

“It’s not a tax increase – it’s a tax shift,” he said.

The money is needed to keep the health department from having to cut core services such as its childhood immunization program and communicable disease control and prevention, DeKalb County Health Department Public Health Administrator Jane Lux said.

The health department had a deficit last year and expects another deficit this year. Lux said the department’s main funding source – grants – has declined by 18 percent over the past eight years. That’s a decrease of $285,612. Other revenue sources also have declined in recent years, she said.

In response, the department has reduced its workforce by the equivalent of 34 full-time employees in past five years, according to a presentation to the county board.

“We’ve done a lot to contain costs,” Lux said.

She said the money is needed to sustain the department’s existing services.

If approved by the County Board, the referendum would be put on the November ballot for voters to decide.

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