Contrary to what was expected six months ago, the North Riverside Village Board decided Monday night to hold the line on property taxes and voted unanimously to levy the same $490,000 it has been levying since 1989.
In June trustees said that they would have to raise the property tax levy this year in order to increase revenue. But on Monday night, the village board decided to hold the line for the 23rd year in a row.
After meeting with North Riverside Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti earlier this month, the village board’s finance committee recommended no increase in the property tax levy. The tax cap law limits the increase in the levy for non-home rule communities like North Riverside to 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5 percent, whichever is less.
The CPI for 2011 was only 1.5 percent, so the levy could have only been increased by about $7,400. However, the CPI cap is not a hard cap. The levy on any new construction done within a given year (for example, the new H.H. Gregg and CVS stores) is not capped, so the actual levy allowed by the county would likely have been higher than 1.5 percent.
But because of the small predicted tax increase, the trustees decided it was just not worth it to raise taxes. The vote to freeze the levy was taken without debate.
“It was $7,000. That was basically nothing,” said North Riverside Mayor Ken Krochmal. “What are we going to do with $7,000?”
Village Administrator Guy Belmonte said the increased revenue that would have come from raising the levy was so small that not raising the levy will have no impact on village services.
“It’s not going to affect us at all,” Belmonte said.
Krochmal said he was glad not having to burden taxpayers with a tax increase.
“In these economic times every little bit helps,” Krochmal said.
Trustees Rocco DeSantis and H. Bob Demopoulos, both of whom last summer criticized the board for not raising the tax levy a penny during the past 22 years, voted Monday to maintain the current levy.
After the meeting they defended their vote.
“Nobody can afford it,” Demopoulos said.
DeSantis and Demopoulos, both of whom were elected in April running against the long dominant VIP Party, said that they are relying on new, more accurate water meters that will be installed in 2012 to help solve the village’s revenue problems.
Demopoulos said wasteful spending is the main problem and that the village does not need to raise taxes.
“We have so many revenue streams that we don’t need to [raise taxes],” Demopoulos said. “What we have is wasteful spending. That’s what me and Trustee DeSantis are checking into.”