Lakewood’s Tax Rate Up Most, Richmond’s Only One Down

This a comparison of city and village tax rates for bills paid last year versus bills that will be due this year. Remember that the tax collection process is always one year behind the assessment process, so taxes on 2010 assessments will be paid this year.

Because Lakewood Village Board members decided to require residents to pay off the last year of the golf course purchased the year before the Property Tax Cap went into effect, Lakewood has the highest percentage tax rate increase of any municipality located in whole or part in McHenry County.

Right behind Lakewood was Port Barrington, another small town that used to be called Fox River Valley Gardens.  Its tax rate is a mere 25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, while LaLakewood’s is $1.15.

Other double digit increases were seen by

  • Harvard – 14.8%
  • Huntley – 14.6%
  • Barrington Hills – 14.3%
  • Lake in the Hills – 13.4%
  • Marengo – 11.4%
  • Lakemoor – 10%

Only one municipality, Richmond managed a 1.3% cut in its tax rate.

Now, the big question.

Why did the rates increase?

You may remember the salad days when assessed valuation, a proxy for property values, increased more than the Consumer Price Index, which governs the amount of extra money that a tax district can get.

When real estate inflation exceeded the CPA, tax rates were forced down.

The result is that most, if not all, tax districts with statutory tax rates are well below those levels.

That means if the real estate assessment base increases less than the rate of general inflation or–as it the case now–it actually decreases, tax districts can still get what they got last year, plus whatever the CPI went up.

They do that just by asking for the money from the McHenry County Clerk’s Office where the tax rates are determined.

As long as that maximum amount can be obtained by multiplying a tax rate less than the statutory maximum times the assessed valuation equalized by the Illinois Department of Revenue, the tax district gets that amount.

The tax districts do not have to act like families and businesses yet.

They don’t have to cut back.

As has been noted on McHenry County Blog, public officials in at least Grafton Township, Huntley School District 158 and McHenry Grade School District 15 tried to get fellow board members not to ask for an increase.

One further observation.

You may be tempted to compare tax rates for different cities or villages.

For example, you could compare Crystal Lake to Woodstock.

The problem with that is that Crystal Lake’s rate includes fire protection and the city library, while Woodstock has additional tax rates for its fire protection and library districts. Conversely, Woodstock pays for its park system with city taxes, while Crystal Lake residents have a separate park district.

There are problems like this all over the place.

In each of the three instances, the prospective tax cutters lost to the tax hikers.

In one case a school board member was told he just didn’t know enough about school finance, that the district would “lose” millions of dollars if the maximum were not taken this year.

In the case of Grafton Township, the Trustees pointed out that it was just pennies per household, that no one would notice.

No elections until next year and the real taxing districts–the schools have no elections until 2013, but now is as good a time as any to suggest that those who are willing to wave a sign on Route 14, Randall Road or Route 62, need to think about doing some heavy lifting by running for office.

With the low turnouts at elections held on the odd-numbered years, anyone can win…if they start writing down the names, phone numbers and emails of acquaintances who agree with them on spending and tax issues.

If those so inclined do not do that, rest assured the candidates backed by the teacher unions will win every school board, as they probably did this year everywhere but McHenry.

The only way to know for sure, of course, would be for people in the various IEA and IFT locals to share endorsements–formal or informal–for school board.

Lacking that, just assume the vast majority of the winners for school board were backed by the employees of each school district.

You can find school district tax rates here.

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