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City Considers Smaller Tax Hike, Passes Budget

Highland Park City Council passes 2014 budget, considers dropping property tax hike from 7.31 percent to 5.2 percent.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering listens to a presentation of the 2014 budget during Monday's City Council meeting.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering listens to a presentation of the 2014 budget during Monday's City Council meeting.

As the Highland Park City Council was passing its 2014 budget today at City Hall, Mayor Nancy Rotering let it slip the 7.31 percent bump in the real estate tax levy first proposed Nov. 12 was likely to settle at 5.2 percent.

“It will cost $1 a week,” Rotering said during a meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole preceding the legislative body’s formal gathering. The initial proposal would have required the owner of a $500,000 home to pay approximately $85 more in 2014 than expended this year. That number now looks like it will drop to $52.

Rotering initially led the charge for the larger increase as an opportunity to get ahead on the City’s long term pension obligations while Councilman David Naftzger pushed for little or no additional taxes. The decrease did not come at the expense of pension obligations.

“There are a lot of moving parts in the budget,” Rotering said. “We were able to winnow it down.” She made it clear the change had nothing to do with paying pension obligations for both 2014 and 2015 next year.

The final budget approved by the Council after an additional reduction of $619,784 made at the meeting, is $84,636,888, according to Finance Director Nikki Larson. Of the $3,056,402 shortfall, $2,661,500 is for capital improvements, according to Larson. That amount will come from City reserves.

Before passing the budget at its regular meeting, council members debated ways to narrow the proposed increase in the real estate tax levy and potentially find other sources to meet the 2015 pension obligations.

Naftzger expressed a desire to use some of the budget reductions subtracted today to ease the tax burden even more.  Rotering disagreed. “Any levy increase is for pension liability,” she said.

“It is all fungible,” Naftzger said.

The Council will further discuss the proposed tax levy at 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at its Committee of the Whole meeting before a public hearing on the tax hike at 7:30 p.m. that day at City Hall.

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Bernard Johnson December 03, 2013 at 01:36 AM
So, how about reducing future pension commitments - there's a thought. Why should municipal employees still get rich pension benefits when the rest of us [you know, taxpayers] have to cope with our own 401K's? Stop spending other people's money!
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Exactly. Nancy has no problem spending taxpayer money. Sell the movie theatre. The stupid agreement to let the non profit look and see if they can raise 10 million is the same thing Belsky did. By the way it looks like he is running for mayor again based on his constant blogs.
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 01:03 PM
NOT HIM AGAIN! He's the one who saddled us the that crumbling theatre and also IDOLIZES the Chicago Daley clan who put that city in the financial mess it is in now. Let him get paid for his commercials for the massage parlor he frequents. We can't afford him as mayor.
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Bernard if a policeman, fireman or EMT is ever needed by you or your family be sure to tell them that they don't deserve the pension they have contributed to during the lifespan of their careers. I am sure they would continue to service you as they hold your life in higher regard than you are showing them.
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 01:34 PM
I agree with you Susan. Pensions are a tough issue, government made a promise that they can't keep. Either employees are going to have to lose some benefits or government is going to have to cut back on services. The money just is not available for both.
Stu Pidasso December 03, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Susan, which parlor? if you are going to publicize something like that why not lay it all out, if you will:)
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 01:58 PM
He does a cable tv commercial for Therapeutic Kneeds
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Thank you Daniel.....I couldn't remember the name and didn't want to guess....so there it is, Stu. I also believe if we went to a tiered state tax instead of a flat tax there would be much more money available all around. This tax is regressive.
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 03:10 PM
It is regressive but the Illinois Constitution does not allow for a progressive tax system. The chance of a constitutional amendment is slim.
Steve S. December 03, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Theraputic Kneads is NOT a massage parlor, they are a great business, leave them out of it.
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 04:40 PM
What are they then?
Steve S. December 03, 2013 at 04:45 PM
They provide massage therapy from licensed massage therapists not the McDonalds of happy endings as she is inferring.
Daniel December 03, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Sorry, now I got your point. Didn't mean to refer to them in that way. I know they are a legit place.
Slats December 03, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Susan Kozloff: How much do public employees such as firemen and policemen contribute to their pensions vs. how much taxpayers have to contribute? I believe the Chicago Park District has "reformed" its pension so as to make the ratio somewhere between 8 and 10 times. And they can retire after 20 or 25 years, start collecting those pensions, with COLAS, and start new careers while they're in their early 50s.
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I'm not going to quote a percentage as I don't know . However I do know that when contributions are not made as they have not been by Chicago then the investments can not grow. You assume that every dollar is provided through taxes. Not so. I do know that you will receive much more in social security than you pay in which is also taxpayer supported. Correct? I am willing to support the pensions of those who have worked for me. It's the ethical and moral thing to do.
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Steve....semantics
Stu Pidasso December 03, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Thanks for the clarification, they do not come off as a rub & tug kind of place.
Slats December 03, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Susan, Social Security benefits are a little more than what someone retiring at 65 nowadays has paid into the program, nowhere near 2 to 1, let alone the 8 or 10 to 1 that public sector employees get from taxpayers. If social security is so good, why haven't the public sector unions bargained for that. There's nothing moral or ethical about public sector unions getting what they want by getting the politicians elected who pander to the unions' desires; using OPM to satisfy them.
Slats December 03, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Susan, re comparing public sector employees pensions to social security, here are some of the sad (for taxpayers) facts: Per the often-cited Urban Institute study of 2011, found at this site: http://www.urban.org/publications/412281.html A single man earning the average wage ($43,500 in 2011 dollars) would pay into, and receive the following: If he turned 65 in 2010, then his Total Lifetime Total Social Security and Medicare benefits received over his lifetime would average: $432,000 VS. the Total Security and Medicare taxes he would have PAID over that average lifetime: $352,000. So he would get about 22% more that what he paid in. Nowhere near the 800% or 1000% that public sector employees get --BEFORE adding their doubly-generous COLAS and early retirement rights.
Dan Cox December 03, 2013 at 06:37 PM
David Naftzger for Mayor!
Susan Kozloff December 03, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Reread my comment. I am not comparing the two . I stated that social security is also publicly supported. I don't know how much you have contributed into your social security fund but I do know mine. And I will be receiving far more than I contributed over the past 45 years....and being an independent contractor I contributed double over that time.
Slats December 03, 2013 at 06:57 PM
But, as the figures show, social security and public employee pensions are, for practical purposes, not even remotely comparable. Moreover, social security obligations are those of the federal government, which can print as much money as it wants, unlike local and state governments.
Slats December 03, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Dan, I'd vote for anyone who refuses to take a pension, and who pledges to reduce the number of government employees appreciably, including the paid board positions. No paid board should be bigger than 3 persons at the local and state level; any more than that simply greatly increases the cost and reduces accountability.
Dan Cox December 03, 2013 at 07:10 PM
David Naftzger was the only city councilman to oppose the illogical and UnConstitutional Assault Weapons Ban, that Mayor Nancy Rotering ram-rodded through. It will cost the city of H.P. at least $300,000.00 to fight this in court and eventually lose, because it violates the U.S. Constitution and State of Illinois Pre-emption law. If the Mayor had gone after only AR-15/AK47 style rifles, she may have had a leg to stand on...but she included handguns, shotguns and sporting rifles too.
Walter White December 03, 2013 at 07:20 PM
McDonalds of happy endings? ROFL...great one Steve!!
Walter (Tripp) Hainsfurther December 03, 2013 at 10:27 PM
I, for one, am tired of those who seem to say that selling the theater will cure all ills. If there was a buyer for the property it would have been sold already. It's kind of like Susan's other pet issue, getting a refund for sewer improvements that we were mandated to make.
AK December 03, 2013 at 11:26 PM
It is not that filled with poison closet commies like to pay extra taxes, but they enjoy when someone else pays more than they do. Right, Walter? Why don't you just make another youtube video and complain directly to Obama instead of posting this nonsense.
Susan Kozloff December 04, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Yes Walter...we were "mandated" to make the repairs.....but only a select few of us were the chosen. And THAT is my issue...that the "mandate" was not evenly applied to all ctizens. AND that Rotterings pledge to me, on my doorstep, that the thousands and thousands I paid to the city would be refunded to me...no question....once she became mayor. It's not the cash...it's the unfairness of the sewer repair program. I would think that after all this time you would finally understand this. Guess not.
Susan Kozloff December 04, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Just give it a rest Wally....apparently I'm not the only sick of hearing from you

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