Retired business man Scott Curry is running for Alderman in McHenry. Earlier, you were able to read his thoughts in these two posts:
On November 17, 2014, he addressed the Council in his continuing quest to keep taxes down.
Below you can read what he said:
Mayor Low, City Council Members and City Staff:
Thank you for allowing me to address the Council this evening. The Finance & Personnel Committee has met twice recently and has decided to recommend to the full Council an increase in the property tax levy of 1.9%. This item will come before this Council in a couple of weeks.
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, a public hearing was held during the December 2nd regular Council meeting.
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 and with most Council members reversing their earlier stance.
Here we are again.
Now you will be considering a 1.9% increase for 2014.
I have spent hours poring over Audit and Budget documents from 2008 to present to try to understand this desire to continually increase the tax burden on the public.
And I have at times been confused, not by the numbers – they are clear, but by the intent.
I am confused that the Council or staff would even consider a tax increase when they have already increased combined local property and sales taxes by 48%.
Yes, that is correct, 48%. This is to the tune of over $8 MM in the last five years.
I have been confused by the constant reference to the Police Pension Fund, in tax increase requests, as one of the major reasons for an increase.
Fully funding this does not, I repeat does not, cause a budgetary issue for the city despite what you are being told.
At best, the pension fund has resulted in increased obligations to the city of $2 MM over the same five years.
Accounting for this increase still leaves an excess of $6 MM in collected local taxes.
I have been confused by the constant use of budget numbers in documents to support a tax increase when actual spending numbers are available from the City’s Audit documents.
In fact, General Fund actual spending is running $1 – $1.5 MM less than the budgetary number year after year.
You should stop allowing the use of past budget numbers to support tax increases and future budgets. [I would not that this is the process used by many local governments. Budget numbers are often higher than actual expenditures.]
Any accounting professional worth their salt can accurately give you a current fiscal year-end estimate and upon which the following year’s budget could and should be based.
I have been confused by where that $1-1.5 MM was going.
Then I noted the increase year after year in the Unassigned General Fund Balance.
It too has been increasing at a yearly average rate of $1.5 MM.
It stood last year at $8.5 MM or 50% of General Fund spending and up from $2.5 MM just four years prior.
And, I project it will likely top $10 MM at the end of this fiscal year.
I am confused at this increase.
Why is this?
The Finance Council’s recommendation had been to maintain that number at 25-30%. A search of other municipalities yields that most recommend, and are within, a 2-4 month spending figure, i.e. 17-33%.
We are at 50% and heading toward 60%.
- there seems to be no good reason for this;
- there seems to be no specific goal stated to do this.
- where is the reference to this in any budget document?
I am confused.
The revenue intake by the city appears to be more than adequate for the need without a property tax increase for years to come.
Keep in mind the revenue sources that are generating the additional $1.5 MM exist now and will continue.
Stop the addition of monies to the Unassigned General Fund and you will have that $1.5 MM extra going forward.
So, I remain confused by this attempt to raise taxes on the residents when funding is more than sufficient.
However, I am crystal clear with the fact that enough funds are more than available.
Perhaps we should be looking at a tax rebate program instead.
I and many of your constituents, that I have spoken to, would ask that you, at a minimum, keep the tax levy flat for 2014 and then do not come back the following year.
Otherwise you are not, as the quote says, “mindful of the economic climate and specifically, the related property tax burden on McHenry residents.”
Please take the time to review the Audit and Budget documents for the City as I have done. Ask tough questions, keep an open mind and make your own informed decision.
Thank you for your time and attention. I am available to any Council member who would like to discuss this further.