The village of Riverside will seek a 2020 property tax levy extension of 4.86 percent to fund village operations, special recreation services and pay down long-term debt during the 2021 fiscal year.

Village trustees are expected to approve the tax levy request at their next business meeting on Dec. 3, which will be held virtually and will be broadcast live on Riverside TV (riversidetv.us), Comcast Channel 16 and U-Verse Channel 99.

The increase in the levy includes all of the so-called “capped” funds – those governed by the state’s tax cap law, which limits non-home rule communities, like Riverside, to annual property tax increases of 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is lower.

Capped funds include ones earmarked for things like village operations, public safety, public works and pensions. The village will levy additional taxes, which are not governed by tax caps, to fund special recreation and debt service.

CPI for this year is 2.3 percent. The village is asking to extend the levy by 4.86 percent, however, in order to capture the value of all new property development from 2020. That amount won’t be known for sure until sometime next year, when Cook County assesses property values, so the levy request is a best-guess estimate.

In 2019, for example, Riverside requested almost $5.1 million for its capped fund levy, an amount about 5 percent more than 2018’s tax levy. In the end, the final levy turned out to be about $4.9 million.

The total 2020 levy for capped funds, which will be collected in 2021, is $5,177,395. Officials expect the final number to be closer to $5 million.

Riverside plans to direct a bit more of the tax levy this year toward general corporate purposes and police protection. Part of the reason is because the village will be contributing slightly less than last year toward its police pension obligation.

Village trustees earlier this year agreed to contribute the statutory minimum (90 percent) for police pensions as a way to help balance the 2021 budget. That decision saved the village about $80,000 compared to what it paid into the police pension fund in 2020.

Police pension obligations have been a concerning and growing burden on village finances, taking more and more of the annual tax levy to meet legal obligations for funding.

In 2021, the village will contribute $1,342,450 to the police pension fund, roughly 26 percent of taxes levied for capped funds.

Library levy reflects new debt

Riverside Public Library’s proposed tax levy, which the village board will also vote to approve on Dec. 2, represents a 12.1-percent increase over its 2019 tax levy.

Like the village, the library’s tax levy is limited to 5 percent or the CPI, whichever is lower.

The library’s 2020 levy for operations, $1,169,303 exactly reflects the 2.3 percent consumer price index. An additional $112,000 is being levied to pay the debt service on a $1.5 million bond issue approved by voters in March to fund renovating the library’s lower level.