River Forest trustees on Nov. 14 voted unanimously to accept the estimate of the 2022 corporate property tax levy of $8.8 million, an increase of 4 percent.
Officials are expected to formally approve the levy request at the Dec. 12 village board meeting.
The 2022 levy request of $8,879,762 is slightly higher than the 2021 extended levy of $8,489,113.
Illinois tax cap laws limit the tax levy increases for non-home rule municipalities like River Forest to 5 percent or the level of the consumer price index (CPI), whichever is lower. For 2022, the CPI is 7 percent, the largest increase since June 1982.
“This is the hard part of our job,” Village President Cathy Adduci said. “I think we’re making a lot of smart decisions. I’m really happy about this.”
Rosey McAdams, the village’s finance director, told elected officials that property taxes on new construction are not included in the levy valuation. That figure is estimated at $8 million as determined by building permits issued.
“By not including the new construction dollars, River Forest property taxpayers will benefit as a whole,” she said. “The village did not increase the levy last year for new construction and actual new property added to the tax roll in 2021 was $7,256,868.
“By not accounting for new construction dollars year after year, the overall tax rate for the village should decrease. The village board continues to look for economic development opportunities to lower taxes for all taxpayers.”
McAdams also explained that a change in methodology will impact future police and fire pension benefit estimates.
“This year’s actuarial reports include a change in methodology based on a programming change made by the actuarial consultant,” she said. “The impact of this change on future benefit estimates a reduction of over 3 percent in projected future benefits.
“Both pension funds have agreed to smooth the reduction in contributions over a five-year period. The resulting actuarial required contribution is less than what was budgeted for fiscal year 2023.”
The tax levy request also highlights just how large a part police and fire pensions play in the village’s fiscal picture. The village is requesting to levy total taxes of a little more than $3.6 million to fund the village’s police and fire pension obligations, which are based on actuarial reports prepared by the village’s actuary, Todd Schroeder from Lauterbach & Amen. The 2022 property tax levy for the police pension fund is $1,896,778 and, for the fire pension fund, $1,707,496.
Pension obligations amount to nearly 44 percent of River Forest’s annual property tax levy request.
The village board also 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, 2022, to April 30, 2023. The taxes from the 2022 levy are collected in 2023.
Officials noted that the village portion of residents’ property tax bills is about 12 percent of the total.