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Elmhurst Finance Committee Looks at Tax Levy Increase

Amount of increase could change as committee digs into numbers.

The city of Elmhurst will likely ask taxpayers to pay more for services next year.

The Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee on Monday took a first look at the city's annual request for property taxes. The preliminary report, which the committee referred to as a “guidepost,” calls for a 4.95 percent increase in the the tax levy over last year.

Finance Director Marilyn Gaston told the committee that the city's property values have dropped about 10 percent in the York Township portion of the city and 12 percent in the Addison Township areas. Homeowners' equalized assessed valuation started to show a decline in 2009, and this trend should continue for at least two more years, Gaston said.

Gaston also reported sales tax revenues are coming in as projected, but those projections are based on revenues from last year, which was hardly a banner year for spending in city stores and restaurants.

Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York said he would like to see a lower tax levy increase, in the 1 to 3 percent range, but an increase is needed. The city's levy increased by 4.9 percent .

“It's dangerous to not have any increase in the tax levy,” he said.

The city's costs, including police and fire contracts, increased by about $3 million from 2008 to 2010, York said. It is important to build up fund balances, said York, agreeing with Gaston that the city will not be able to do this if revenues and expenditures remain the same.

Along with the levy, the committee wants to keep more long-term budget improvements on the table.

“We've changed the way we've done business, but there are still some structural changes in the budget process we can look at,” York said, referencing ideas raised by the Finance Task Force.

Jim Court October 25, 2011 at 01:49 PM
We need to take a very thorough look at how we run the City. Many efficiencies could be had. Although I want to support our leadership in general, someone has to be willing to challenge the status quo and make changes. City workers tell me of excessive number of supervisors. Do fire trucks have to go out on ambulance calls. Couldn't equipment be staged on the North and Central areas of town and increase efficiency? The Park District cuts the grass on a strict schedule, even if it doesn't need to. The Park District has employees who drive around, look to see if the park is still there, and then leave. Do Police have to dedicate time to internet stings ? Petty tickets result in significant Police overtime. I am sure many other areas could be operated more efficiently. Voters will rebel and elect others out of frustration. Unless these efforts are sincerely made, the public will not believe that everything has been done. The current administration will be laying the groundwork for its demise. I am not speaking as a critque but as a friend. Do we lead or do we follow? If anybody has any ideas they can e-mail me directly @ idealist2@aol.com. I will not reveal who you are to anyone but will print out these ideas in this forum.
NancyC October 25, 2011 at 03:24 PM
No,no,no! "It's dangerous to not have any increase in the tax levy," says the 4th wards Kevin York! Are you kidding? This is exactly the kind of thinking that sends folks out of this town and this state. Clearly the public union contracts and the pension funding mandated by the state have got to be resolved. If the union won't be reasonable on wages and benefits, then fire them. There are plenty of unemployed citizens who would gladly take their jobs. If Springfield won't clean up the pension graft then FIRE Springfield. We need right to work legislation passed right here in Illinois. That would help stop giant district 205 from sucking a huge percentage of the property tax revenue into that spending abyss, just another out of control public union. You know you don't have to be in a union to get a job, at least you shouldn't have to.
Bill Angel October 25, 2011 at 05:07 PM
NancyC, Kevin York is up for re-election in 2012. It is obvious that something is fundamentally wrong with Mr. Yorks' strong penchant for increasing taxes year after year, wspecailly in a major recession. The easiest thing to do is raise taxes. Mr. York takes his que from Mr. DiCianni so it's a done deal. God for bid they would roll up their sleeves and restrain the growth of City spending. Remembe, these HUGE tax increases are compounded every year, so they really build up over time. What's wrong with this p[icture: Property values down 20-30%, Property taxes increased, City services way less. The only way to impact taxes across the board is to lower municipal spending.
Laura Urbik Kern October 25, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Everyone in town should get a copy to the Task Force Report. The Historical Museum has salaries and wages of $575,000!!! A proposed budget of 1.6 million? We need more police to give tickets to residents to raise revenue? Higher parking fines? Red Light cameras? Property tax hike? Gas tax? This city will really have a revenue problem when the residents say ENOUGH and leave town....
MIKE October 25, 2011 at 05:25 PM
When will the City start to have some decent or any for that matter, cost savings? Raise the taxes, raise the taxes - I don't know where these burearocrats think all this money is going to come from? A few yrs. ago sales tax in Elm. used to be 6.75%, now it is 8%. I know they are talking tax levy which is completely different but this idea of tax spending and keep raising taxes is absurd. Elmhurst residents, who wants to start a tax revolt. If Mayor Pete or King Pete approves this, his ass is going to be pushed out next election time.
Bill Angel October 25, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Not any time soon. Increased levy and taxes are a done deal. This adminsitration and the gang of eight or so lack the intellectual capacity to make real change in how government works for the people. It's a pure status que bunch. Tax-spend, tax-spend. Honestly, do you really think the historical museum is a CORE service at $1.6 million dollars? $575,000 in salaries? Take a peek at the legal bills over the past 24 months! You'll really scratch your head.
Jim Court October 25, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Folks, These discussions need to be publicized in a way that reaches the voting public. I believe that a very limited number of people read this type of column. I do have an idea how to do this inexpensively. If anybody is interested please let me know. In defense of Kevin York, he did take the time to meet with me over issues I was having with our code enforcement. I give him credit for that. I know he reads these comments and perhaps he will spearhead some of the needed changes. One of the trouble that occurs in politics is the mindset of "go along, to get along" Sad, but true. Pete is a businessman. he knows that you cannot arbitrarily keep raising costs or you will price yourself out of the market. He should take the same approach to the way we manage Government. If he does that convincingly, he would be very hard to beat. It is the more difficult path but it is the right one.
Glenn October 26, 2011 at 12:21 AM
leaving town is not the answer... but it will come down to that as Elmhurst, Dupage county and Illinois price me out.
Dan October 26, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Karen Is it possible to list how much the city has actually spent for each of the last 5 years so we can get an idea of what the increases or decrease have been over this time frame.
Darlene Heslop October 26, 2011 at 03:03 AM
if you take a look at the budget for this past year, it gives you the revenues vs. expenses for the last 5 years prior. the increase in the levy is deliberately set below 5% because if it was greater than that, it must go to the voters, and of course, the city council doesn't want that. the city council just gave the chamber of commerce $50k for a "buy elmhurst" campaign - if they increase taxes, guess what, the residents won't have any disposable income to "buy elmhurst". the city council needs to go on a serious diet - all existing contracts for services, including law services, need to go out for re-bidding, and all those consultants? they need to determine just who is needed and for what so that we aren't paying 3 different firms for the same thing.
Dan October 26, 2011 at 03:24 AM
When I read the Task Force Report I was surprised to see they were budgeting around 80,000 dollars a piece for two open positions at the Historical Museum if my memory serves me correctly. I guess that is how you get to the 575,000 in salaries and wages. At the time the report was written about 1 out of every 7 dollars collected in property taxes were needed to fund the museum. Of course that changed when the city property taxes were raised.
Bill Angel October 26, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Buy Elmhurst? Is it OK to purchse my printing material in Addison? I know of a small well connected psuedo union shop. Out front sits a white Prius with an Elmhurst vehicle sticker that happens to be sticker number 1. Could it be King Peter? What happens if Petey were to raise our taxes over the 5%? Why not ask the stakeholders if they want ANY tax and fee increases? Who is looking out for the taxpayers? Has there been ONE single layoff? IS the Asst. City manager necessary? Did the new City manager really get a tax free zero interest $250,000 loan from the taxpayers? Has the City really spent well over $1.2 million dollars in legal fees for 2011? There is way more wasteful spending. Follow the money.
Karen Chadra (Editor) October 26, 2011 at 03:39 AM
All of the city's budget information can be found here: http://www.elmhurst.org/index.aspx?nid=1145 Check out the budget summary for revenue and expense amounts that go back to 2008.
Darlene Heslop October 26, 2011 at 03:48 AM
dearest bill, i love your comments. let me remind you that unfortunately, if you purchase your printed material in addison, it is addison that benefits from your sales tax, not elmhurst, so alas, the "buy elmhurst" campaign would be wasted on your transaction. sticker #1 does indeed belong to pete dicianni. he can try to raise them over 5%, but he would have to convince the voters that this is something that they really, really want and can't live without. i would love, love, love it if the stakeholders were asked this very question, and i tried, and still try, to look out for the people of elmhurst. no layoffs that i know of, though there have been some "furlough" days (which were supposed to be unpaid, but i believe there was the option to take vacation time instead). i don't believe an assist. city mgr. is necessary, and had i been elected, i would have made a point of eliminating the position as a cost saving measure. yep - and the reason given at the time of their hiring was "they will save us money since we can go ala carte". anything else? what about a tif district in a flood plain? a 6 story combo office/parking deck in the middle of addison street for mr. hiffman? follow the money indeed.
Darlene Heslop October 26, 2011 at 03:56 AM
oh, and yep...$250k to buy a house.
Dan October 26, 2011 at 04:01 AM
So in 2008-09 the city had an actual budget of 96,866,206 In 2011-12 the city has a proposed budget of 135,583,746 Seems like a mighty big increase to me even if it is only a proposed number. What is it that I'm missing?
Jim Court October 26, 2011 at 01:26 PM
Why is there so little response to this issue?
TCB October 26, 2011 at 04:20 PM
What a joke. Dangerous NOT to raise the tax levy? Dangerous? Are you kidding me? Talk about stupid hyperbole.
Jim Court November 02, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Is the "Patch" losing its way? The minimal level of awareness and marginal response to significant issues makes me wonder. Other than a handful of people who form the core group of those who seem to be political engaged, I see little of community involvement or awareness. Maybe these pages need to be a little more provocative and challenging. Feel good journalism has its place but does nothing to address the deeper issues and problems we face as a community. Any thoughts?

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