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12/11/2012 9:33:00 PM
Braidwood approves annual property tax levy
Marney Simon
Staff writer

The city of Braidwood has approved its annual tax levy increase for properties within the city limits.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, the members of the Braidwood City Council voted on the levy, with estimated total property taxes extended or abated for 2012 at $1.977 million. That is a 21 percent increase from last year.

But the issue of taxation was one that brought several residents out to City Hall, wondering exactly what the levy will mean for their overall tax bills. The answer, said the city, was not as easy as that.

"There's a big difference between what we propose and what we actually collect," said Jim Acanfora, an accounting consultant for the city. "We have prepared the levy, we've prepared the necessary documents to provide to the counties of Will and Grundy."

City officials explained to those making public comments that levies are complex things required by law. While the city is required to prepare the levy, they have to do it mostly with guesswork based on numbers from the county. It's up to the county exactly what the city will collect in taxes. However, if the city asks for too little, it will only receive that much. If they ask for too much, the county will widdle that number down. But, city officials expect the total amount increased for the city portion of taxes will be minimal.

Residents also took issue with a new item on the overall levy, a specific fund earmarked for the police pension. Earlier this year, the council voted to approve adding to its annual levy a line item to specifically pay for the police pension. The pension liability has been paid from the general fund, but the state of Illinois allows for municipalities to levy specifically for pensions, so as to not take that money out of the general operating budget.

Illinois Central Sch Buss

Back in May, Police Chief Rich Girot told The Braidwood Journal that the levy could add up to a $95 to the tax on each parcel in town. But city officials said that was just a general estimate for specific parcels, not something that will be added to everyone's bills.

"Ninety-five dollars was an estimate [Girot] was making I think on a house that was worth $200,000 dollars, not a vacant piece of property," said Mayor Bill Rulien. The council added that the number Girot estimated was an average, not a total per parcel.

The levy breaks down into the following two major categories, each with specific line item funds:

• The proposed corporate and special purpose property taxes to be levied are $1.885 million, a 23 percent increase from last year.

• The estimated property taxes to be levied for debt service for 2012 are $92,138, a 1 percent increase over last year.

Taxing districts levy new taxes annually. To request the increase, the taxing body first establishes the amount it hopes to seek. If the increase is more than 5 percent above the approved levy of the previous year, then the public body must publish a public notice announcing how much it requesting. The public body must have a public hearing, then adopt the levy after giving the public a chance to comment or ask questions. That hearing was held prior to the council's regular meeting this week.

The city is required by law to submit the levy by the end of the year, but does not receive full taxing information from the county until the spring. The levy is calculated by using the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the property within the city, which is essentially an estimate of what all the property in town is worth. The actual value of the property, and what the city will take in via taxes, will not be determined until late February or early March.

The city tax is only a single line item on tax bills. Residents also pay taxes to other districts, including the school district, park district, fire protection district, library district and mosquito abatement district, among others.

The council approved the levy by a vote of 5-0.

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