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As Property Assessments Dip, Plainfield Tax Rate to Go Up

Village trustees previewed the proposed $20.9 million 2013-14 budget at a Monday night meeting.

Plainfield officials are mulling what village staff called a “status quo” budget that would keep the tax levy the same as last year.

But with assessed property values projected to drop villagewide, Director of Management Services Traci Pleckham said the village’s tax rate would have to increase to generate the proposed $5.1 million in property taxes.

“It will change the homeowners’ rate, but the dollar amount [of the levy] will stay the same,” Pleckham said.

The tax levy is the amount of property taxes a governing body asks the Will County treasurer to collect on its behalf to fund its operating expenses.

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The current rate is about 43 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation (EAV), up from 40 cents the previous year. 

“[The tax rate] will depend on what the final assessments are for the village,” Village Administrator Brian Murphy said. “The overall picture is that we won’t bring in any more money than we’re collecting now.”

According to estimates from Will County, EAV is expected to fall an average of 5 percent, Pleckham said.

Some homeowners — namely those whose home’s assessed value drops more than the average — won’t see the village’s portion of their tax bill increase or could even see a decrease, Murphy said.

But those whose property assessment value has stayed the same or gone up will see a slight increase.

“Some might see an uptick if their valuation increases or their [property value] decrease was lower than the average,” he said.

Murphy said the typical Plainfield homeowner paid about $600 in property taxes to the village this year. If there was no decrease in property value for that home, “your biggest scenario would be a $30 increase,” he noted.

‘Heavy lifting to do’

At a Monday night Committee of the Whole meeting, Pleckham outlined a projected $20.9 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2013-14.

That includes a projected $11.16 million in funding for the Plainfield Police Department, an amount Pleckham said represents a 2.6 percent increase over last year.

“Just like every department in the village, just like every community in America, we’ve been asked to do more with less,” Police Chief John Konopek said, adding that in recent years, the department has reduced staff, worked to extend the life of police vehicles and consolidated services to save money. “We’re not looking at any major increases at all.”

He cited figures showing that Plainfield, with 51 officers, has 1.27 sworn officers per 1,000 residents — the second lowest in the state compared to communities of similar size. He said the Illinois State Police recommend 1.8 sworn officers per 1,000 residents.

Konopek said police have also used revenue generated by asset forfeiture to purchase equipment.

Murphy noted that while there is still “heavy lifting to do,” the village is in better financial shape than it was just a few years ago.

“If you recall, we found ourselves in some very different financial situations about three, four years ago,” he said. In 2009, the village struggled with a $3.8 million deficit.

Last year, the board voted to approve new gas and sales taxes to help offset a projected deficit. This time around, the proposed budget shows a $62,986 surplus.

Trustee Garrett Peck applauded staff's work on the proposal.

"It's great news that the villlage will not be raising property taxes," he said.

Peck and fellow trustee Dan Rippy did offer some feedback in the form of a proposal that the village drop an amusement tax imposed on businesses that offer recreation or entertainment like billiards or bowling.

The tax, which amounts to 1 percent of gross receipts, is passed on to customers by businesses and generates only a few thousands dollars for the village. Last year's budget showed $4,000 in amusement tax revenues.

Rippy called it "problematic" for businesses to have to calculate and pay the tax. 

"It's not a lot of money we're collecting," he said. 

Peck said abolishing the tax would make Plainfield more business friendly.

Hearing scheduled

Before voting to approve the tax levy, the board must hold a public hearing. Pleckham said that's tentatively scheduled to happen at the first board meeting in December, set for Dec. 3.

The board must approve the tax levy before the end of the year, meaning trustees must take action by its last scheduled 2012 meeting on Dec. 17.

MikeS November 03, 2012 at 02:00 PM
And Indiana is in the black, what's going on here?
T-Bone November 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
<Plainfield, with 51 officers, has 1.27 sworn officers per 1,000 residents> <Illinois State Police recommend 1.8 sworn officers per 1,000 residents> Yes but Plainfield is Safer then 62% of the rest of the US! Just because Illinois State Police recommends it, Doesn't mean it's necessary. <worked to extend the life of police vehicles and consolidated services to save money> Haven't we all? Spoiled Brat!
Gonzo November 03, 2012 at 11:43 PM
It's a trick - raise the tax rate when values go down - you don't notice the hit. When you property value goes back up even incrementally in the next 5 years - you will be paying more tax in actual dollars. Old government ploy - they push the rate increase through when you will notice the outcome the least. How about they do more with less - who says they have to collect 5.1 million? How about 4.5 million or some other value that is less like the rest of society is adjusting to these days? Plainfield already is doing much better with raising water rates, new capitol charge, - alot of new guaranteed money coming in they did not have before. All government local and beyond keep going to the well to gut the sheep...
Tim November 03, 2012 at 11:49 PM
And then you can enjoy the other wonderful part of taxes in Indiana... county income taxes, as well as state and federal. I've lived in Indiana, and am always amused when I hear people in Illinois say that their state income tax is lower in Indiana, so it must be better....
Lisa S. November 04, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Tim...get a grip. The generalization that ALL Republicans do or don't do anything is not true. And not everyone in this town thought that the 'business center' was a good idea. I do not think it was a good idea. It opens up liability, interior building traffic and maintenance/business expenses that should not be borne by taxpayers. A small fee is not going to offset this.

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