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Sycamore City Council favors lowering tax rate

SYCAMORE – Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory laid out four tax levy options to the city council and one appeared to be the favorite. The City Council expressed being in favor of an option to maintain the current levy and decrease the tax rate for property owners.

Gregory pointed out an error in how people think when it comes to city property taxes.

“There’s a common misconception that all of your property tax dollars go to the city,” he said.

There are nine different taxing bodies and three – the Sycamore School District, DeKalb County, the Sycamore Park District – that take in higher percentages than the City of Sycamore, according to city documents.

First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer was one of eight council members who expressed interest in the third option. He said it shows fiscally conservative responsibility.

The option favored by the City Council reduces the city tax rate to about 0.658 from the 2018 rate of about 0.687.

The owner of a $200,000 home would pay about one cent less on the city portion of their property tax bill.

Bauer said the city tax is the biggest bang for its buck.

“I get high-quality police protection, I get high-quality fire protection, high-quality ambulance service, and outstanding snow removal service,” Bauer said. “I have an extra fee on my water bill for garbage, but I have all those services and for 6.87% of my property tax bill, I think is remarkable and I appreciate that.”

Rick “Spider” Kramer, 4th Ward alderman, said the biggest factor is the impact on single-family homes, which with the third option would pay one cent less in city taxes in 2019.

“Anytime we can save a couple pennies, I’m all good with that,” Kramer said. “No. 3. I’ll sign my name to that bill any day.”

Chuck Stowe, 2nd Ward alderman, agreed that option 3 is the correct choice and he used history to show how the city tax rate has changed.

“It’s really instructive to look at the city tax rate,” he said. “Go back to 2012 when it was 0.7. If you really want to have fun go back to 1986 when it was a buck-64. It’s a little less than half of what it used to be.”

Sycamore Mayor Curt Lang weighed in too and agreed with the City Council.

“We pay enough in taxes,” Lang said. “If we can save anywhere. I think it’s very well appreciated.”

Following the council’s discussion Monday night about the four options, the first reading for option 3 will take place Dec. 2. If approved at the meeting Dec. 2, action would follow Dec. 16.

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