Alderman Changes Gears; Nearly Flat Levy Now Likely
Possible surplus means taxpayers will get a break, alderman says.
One alderman's change of heart will likely lead to a less-than-anticipated tax levy for Elmhurst residents. The City Council Monday approved a report from one member of the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee that calls for no new city taxes for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York originally concurred with the majority of the committee's decision last week to recommend a tax levy increase of 4.5 percent, with half used to be used to fund city services for another year and half sitting off to the side to reimburse Elmhurst Memorial should the facility retain its nonprofit status. York Township taxing bodies are being told to levy as if Elmhurst Memorial Hospital is taxed as a for-profit entity.
The $9 million levy York proposed Monday reflects no increase in the levy for the city and a $198,000 levy specifically to refund any money due back to the hospital if its tax-exempt status is reinstated. In addition, the library is asking for a 3 percent increase in its levy. According to York's report, the effect on the owner of a home valued at $370,000 in 2011 is an additional $11.23 per year, which is about a 1 percent increase.
York told the council that he reversed his original decision after consulting with Finance Director Marilyn Gaston, who provided him with information about the city's fiscal health. Based on her calculations, the city is about $840,000 ahead of originally projected revenues, largely due to the receipt of a $460,000 resurfacing grant and a few unfilled staff positions.
“We could probably afford to give taxpayers a break,” York said.
He added that any surplus earnings can be used to build back the city's fund balances or kept in reserve in case of major unforeseen events.
First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf proposed doing away with the so-called hospital levy as well, reasoning that if the city does realize a revenue surplus, this money can be used to refund the hospital's tax payment. Her 1st Ward colleague, Paula Pezza, agreed, arguing that it was not correct to say that the city was asking for no new taxes from residents. Gutenkauf's amendment failed on a 7-8 vote, with Mayor Pete DiCianni casting the deciding “no.”
The levy returns to the council in two weeks for final approval.