Back in November, Scott Curry was thinking about running for McHenry Alderman in Ward 4.
Here’s what he said when he addressed the Finance and Personnel Committee on November 3rd:
Thank you for allowing me to speak this evening.
As you consider this tax levy increase on your constituents, let me draw your attention to the following quote:
“For the last two years the City has approved and submitted a levy request that was equal to the levy adopted in 2010. This was an effort to be mindful of the economic climate and specifically, the related property tax burden on McHenry residents.”
That quote came from the November 11, 2013 minutes of the Finance & Personnel Committee and from the November 18, 2013 minutes of the City Council meeting.
This statement was made by staff just prior to the Committee approving a recommendation for an over 5% increase in the property tax levy.
The quote was then repeated by staff before City Council just prior to Council approving the 5% figure.
In actual matter of fact the Council was about to do nothing over the prior three years to be mindful of the economic climate and property tax burden.
From 2009 to 2013, the Council had approved combined actual or proposed tax increases at or above the rate of inflation.
Inflation rate was -0.4% in 2009, followed by the Council approving a 3.1% levy increase for 2010.
In 2013, an over 5% increase request was approved effectively negating any supposed benefit to the tax payer for the 2011 and 2012 flat levies.
The 2013 inflation rate was 1.5%, less than a third of the proposed increase.
Over those years mentioned the average inflation rate had been 1.6% and yet Council would likely have approved a combined increase of over 8%, not exactly a break to the tax payer.
To the Council’s credit, they decided to hold a public hearing at the December 2nd regular meeting even though it was apparently not statutorily required. It was at that meeting, the Council found out that this proposed increase was adamantly opposed by all public present.
The eventual vote was 6 to 1 to leave the levy as is for 2013.
Here we are again.
Now you are considering a 1.9% increase for 2014.
This is above the rate of inflation for 2014 and above the rate of inflation for 2013 which are 1.7 and 1.5% respectively.
So, once again, you are considering an increase above the inflation rate.
While Home Rule status gives you the ability to ignore the tax cap, it does not mean that you should.
And it does not make it right or prudent.
What the public really wants to see are actual cuts made to the total budget such that an increase is not only unneeded but perhaps a decrease could be considered.
It is what they must consider in their own budgets. Truly, everything need not go up each year even if staff suggests otherwise.
I and many of your constituents, that I have spoken to, would ask that you keep the tax levy flat for 2014 and then do not come back the following year and try recapture the funds by attempting to increase tax levies above inflation rates.
Otherwise you are not, as the quote says, “mindful of the economic climate and specifically, the related property tax burden on McHenry residents.”
Thank you for your time and attention.