Fight in the Offing about Whether to Hike MCC Property Taxes or Keep Them Flat

McHenry County College taxpayers might get a break next year.

After MCC Chief Financial Officer Bob Tenuta gave his report on next year’s budget, discussion indicated that several new Board members are thinking about asking for the same amount from real estate taxpayers as was requested last year.

Tenuta recommended to a meeting of the Board’s Committee of the Whole that the levy be increased by 4.99% next year.

That is one one-hundredth of a percentage point lower than the 5% increase that would trigger a so-called “Truth in Taxation” publication (inside a black box) and hearing.

New Board member Chris Jenner asked about the 4.99% figure and the CFO admitted, “If I go over 5%, we have to do a black box.”

He pointed out that the increase in the cost of living allowed by the Tax Cap legislation would be 1.7% for next year’s taxes.

Tax House + DollarsHe argued that the difference between the 1.7% increase allowed by the law technocrats call PTELL and 4.99% was needed to make certain that the college did not lose any new growth, that is, assessments on newly-built or improved property.

His reasoning points to 3.22% in new construction.
Commenting on “new growth,” Tenuta said,

“If we don’t capture growth as it comes in we lose it forever.”

His predecessor recommended and the old MCC Board voted to increase its levy by 9.99%.

That resulted in taking as much money as the college could legally collect and kept it off McHenry County Blog’s “Tax District Honor Role.”

It pushed the MCC tax rate from 34 cents to 39 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

“Levies have gone up 50% over the last ten years,” newly-elected Tom Wilbeck pointed out.

New Trustee Molly Walsh the impact on the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget “if we do decide to have a flat levy.”

Tenuta had pointed out that increasing the tax take by 1.7% would bring in $225,000.

New MCC Board members Chris Jenner and Tom Wilbeck confer during a meeting break

New MCC Board members Chris Jenner and Tom Wilbeck confer during a meeting break

Jenner and Tenuta then tilted over the potential amount of new construction. Jenner argued that setting the levy at 1.499% of this year’s extension (the amount the County Clerk tells the County Treasurer to collect) was excessive.

“That 4.99 is like a wish list,” Wilbeck added.

Walsh questioned the impact of foregoing the $224,000.

“If we don’t put the maximum in there, then…once we hit the 1.7 we lose all the rest,” Linda Liddell pointed out.

Tenuta agreed that if the Tax Cap allowed increase were not taking, it would be lost forever.

“If we do take it, the taxpayer gets hit by it forever,” Jenner rejoined.

Wilbeck then said his piece:

“We have to show some restraint.

“70% of my tax bill goes toward education.

“Tax to the max is not sustainable.

“That’s why people voted us in. I have a responsibility to them.”

Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh

“Would you, for the sake of discussion, prepare a budget with a flat budget?” Walsh asked.

“Are you saying 1.7%?” Liddell asked.

“No, flat,” Walsh replied.

Liddell argued that if the State were paying one-third, “I’d say it’s time to flatten out.”

Missing from the committee meeting were Mary Miller and Cynthia Kisser.


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