In light of high inflation in the United States, Oak Park residents could get a reprieve on property taxes. The village board is considering not raising its property tax levy for the next fiscal year to ease some of the financial burden.
“This is the year to do it. There is hurt; there is pain,” said Trustee Ravi Parakkat. “We have some savings, we have some favorables, so let’s use that to change the trajectory of our community from an affordability perspective.”
In recent years, the village of Oak Park has maintained an annual levy increase of 3%, which looked to be a trend that would continue in 2023. But an unexpected windfall of $9.7 million in sales tax revenue from 2021 has given the board reason to reconsider.
Oak Park Chief Financial Officer Steve Drazner shared the good news during the village board’s initial 2023 budget discussion meeting Monday night, but was unable to say what exactly caused the increased revenue.
“It’s hard to explain the reason for that because I’m still trying to figure that out for myself,” he said.
The increase in sales tax revenue is substantial. Sales tax revenue had been trending downward, with the village only collecting $6.4 million in 2020 compared to $6.7 million in 2019 and $6.8 million the year before. Oak Park also had about $27 million in its general fund as of the end of last year, according to Drazner.
The proposal to not raise the property tax levy came from Parakkat, but it was endorsed by Trustee Jim Taglia.
“I’m absolutely very comfortable with a very low, if not a zero, levy change from last year to this year,” said Taglia, who directed other taxing bodies to consider adopting a lower levy increase as well.
Should the village board opt not to increase its levy, the village could face potential service cuts, according to Village Manager Kevin Jackson. The prospect of service cuts made the other village board members hesitant to put their full support behind Parakkat’s suggestion.
Still, the possibility of no increase remains. Village President Vicki Scaman directed staff to research the potential service impact of a flat levy.