The River Forest Village Board provided some early holiday cheer for village residents, Nov. 30, approving a tax levy for 2020 that will not increase the village portion of residents’ property tax bills.
At the virtual village board meeting, officials approved a levy for 2020 of $8,130,737, which is slightly higher than the extended levy for 2019 of $8,106,253.
Village President Cathy Adduci said she is “very proud” to be able to approve the flat levy.
“We did that because we are in an unfortunate pandemic and people are hurting,” she said. “I feel that this was the right thing to do for our community at this moment. I applaud the board.”
She also thanked village staff, singling out Rosie McAdams, finance director; Eric Palm, administrator; and Lisa Scheiner, assistant administrator.
The levy amount did not change since it was presented at the Nov. 9 village board meeting. The village board rescheduled its second monthly meeting in November to allow the Nov. 30 vote. Illinois Truth in Taxation Law requires each taxing body to determine an estimate of its tax levy not less than 20 days before adoption. The village board normally meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. The property tax levy must be filed with Cook County by Dec. 22.
According to McAdams, the village tax levy forgoes the expected annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 2.3 percent and forgoes any additional property taxes associated with assessed valuations tied to new construction projects.
Although the impact on individual homeowners will vary, the village portion of residents’ property tax bills should decrease slightly or remain flat, she added. The village portion is approximately 11 percent of the average resident’s total property tax bill.
Palm explained at the Nov. 9 meeting that the village would use the “healthy amount of reserves we have” to compensate for any shortfall in revenue.
“One of the things we’ve done over the past 8-10 years is to create a great fiscal policy that allows us to build that rainy day fund,” Adduci said Nov. 9. “We’re at that rainy day. People are hurting and we need to give back.”
Most village funds are subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, which limits property tax levy increases to 5 percent or the CPI, whichever is lower. The exception is the non-capped fire pension levy.
The village portion of the levy is $3,252,216, down $508,763 from $3,758,979 in 2019. Other components of the levy are the police pension, up $264,432 to $1,830,611; fire pension, up $235,248 to $1,662,693; the River Forest Public Library levy, up $43,408 to $1,356,903; and the non-capped fire pension, down $11,841 to $28,314.
The village board approved the annual tax levy for the River Forest Public Library, which falls under the auspices of the village but is governed separately.
The current fiscal year runs from May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The taxes from the 2020 levy are collected in 2021.
The total levy, which includes $270,629 for debt service, is $8,401,366, an increase of $17,341 or 0.21 percent from 2019. The debt service levy is lower by $7,143 from 2019.
The levy amounts for the police and firefighter pension funds are based on actuarial reports prepared by the village’s actuary, Todd Schroeder from Lauterbach & Amen. The levy amounts for both funds are higher than the statutory minimum requirements of $1,304,895 for the police pension fund and $1,196,605 for the fire pension fund.