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Elmhurst City Council Approves Tentative 4.19 Percent Tax Levy Increase

Levy estimate includes possible hospital reimbursement.

Elmhurst City Council on Monday approved a preliminary 2012 tax levy—or annual request for property taxes—of $16.76 million, a 4.19 percent increase over last year. First Ward Alderman Paula Pezza cast the only "no" vote.

Illinois' Truth in Taxation Law requires the city to estimate the taxes to be levied for the 2012 tax year at least 20 days prior to adoption of the 2012 tax levy ordinance, which is slated for Monday, Dec. 3. Aldermen will continue levy discussions over the next few weeks before finalizing the levy.

The $16.76 million estimated levy includes $9.46 million for the city and $7.3 million for Elmhurst Public Library.

The Elmhurst Memorial Hospital property is the big wildcard for all taxing bodies in York Township. While taxing bodies are being told to levy as if Elmhurst Memorial Hospital is taxed as a for-profit entity, the hospital has applied to regain its tax-exempt status; this process has taken more than a year.

So while the levies for the city, Elmhurst School District 205 and Elmhurst Park District once again will reflect the value of the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital property, all taxing bodies know full well that any tax money received from the hospital will likely have to be returned. Aldermen set aside tax revenue last year to reimburse Elmhurst Memorial should the facility regain its nonprofit status, and the plan for this year is to do the same.

However, adding to mix—and much to the surprise of Elmhurst's elected officials—the hospital also is asking for tax-exempt status on a portion of The Center for Health property retroactive to when it opened in 1999. Hospital executives are saying 54 percent of the Center for Health is for hospital use, and therefore the hospital should be refunded 54 percent of the property taxes it paid for the past 12 years.

This year, the city is planning to set aside about $440,000 from property taxes received to pay the hospital back, should it regain tax-exempt status. Last year, it set aside about $198,000. The library portion is about $270,000 this year, up from $122,000 last year.

In comparison, District 205 is looking at having to return $2.5 million when the Center for Health is factored in. The School District budget is $1.1 million in the red this year due mainly to the unexpected tax-exempt potential of the Center for Health.

The largest area of increase in the city's tentative 2012 levy is for its contribution to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. In 2011, it was about $600,000; this year, it is $680,000, an increase of 13.3 percent. The police pension line item is tentatively up 6.14 percent, from $1.8 million to $1.9 million.

While it won't affect this levy, aldermen discussed the city's planned transition from a May-through-April fiscal year to a calendar fiscal year. Finance Director Marilyn Gaston said the 2013 fiscal year will only be eight months long, and the calendar year budget begins Jan. 1, 2014.

Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee will plug hard numbers into the levy spreadsheet when it meets next week. Regular committee meetings will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, due to the Veteran's Day holiday on Monday. City Hall will be open on Veteran's Day, however.

Jim November 06, 2012 at 12:44 PM
The library levy is getting close to the levy for the entire city. What's with that?
Karen Chadra (Editor) November 06, 2012 at 04:54 PM
The city gets most of its revenue from sales tax and a relatively small portion from property taxes. So in this article, you're not seeing the operating revenue of the city, just the portion that comes from property owners. The library has its own budget, even though it's under the umbrella of the city's budget, and does not have that sales tax revenue line item. I hope that makes sense :-/ Here is the library's preliminary levy: www.elmhurstpubliclibrary.org/documents/Attachment%20H.pdf
Elmhurst Public Library November 06, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The Library is funded almost entirely by property tax dollars, while the city's budget has several sources of income, including property, sales, and utility taxes. The levy covers only the amount for property tax dollars, which is why it looks like the Library is "creeping up on" the city's levy. The actual budget for the Library is approximately $7,000,000 (which includes the annual operating revenue and $1,600,000 in funds for bond repayment) and the city's budget is approximately $123,000,000. All the city budget info is at http://www.elmhurst.org/index.aspx?NID=1221
David November 06, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Nice to see pensions eating up a larger and larger chunk... I think it is safe to say we can expect pension expenses to go up at a rate much higher than inflation over the rest of our lifetimes. Good for the people getting pensions, bad for the people paying for them...
Jim Johston November 06, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Greedy Elmhurst hospital. Soak the residents for all they can.
David R. November 06, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Seriously -- it is a complete outrage that a for-profit organization would qualify for tax-exempt status. And retroactively, no less. All to the detriment of Elmhurst taxpayers and our schools. It seems like no one is paying attention to this matter. The school district is going to have to return $2.5 million to a for profit entity!! Wake up residents -- ridiculous tax decisions like this and the sweetheart TIF deals that Shady Pete is doling out are why your personal property taxes keep increasing.

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