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City Passes Reduced Property Tax Levy

Highland Park City Council hikes taxes 40 percent less than planned.

Highland Park's City Council passed a 4.85 percent property tax increase Monday.
Highland Park's City Council passed a 4.85 percent property tax increase Monday.

Nearly a month after proposing a 7.31 percent property tax hike, the Highland Park City Council approved a 4.85 percent bump for next year today in a 6-1 vote after a public hearing on the proposed real estate levy at City Hall.

City Councilman David Naftzger was the lone no vote with Mayor Nancy Rotering joining Council members Paul Frank, Kim Stone, Daniel Kauffman, Tony Blumberg and Alyssa Knobel voting for the change.

What started out as a measure which would cost the owner of a $500,000 house approximately $82 more in 2014 than the person paid this year will now require the same property owner to put out $49 next year, according to Finance Director Nikki Larson.

The total levy, including the amount for the Highland Park Public Library, is $16,092,860, 4.85 percent more than last year. The City’s projected revenue for 2014 is $81,580,486 making property taxes approximately 20 percent of income.

The primary reason for the tax increase was finding the money to meet pension obligations for this year as well as 2015. This plan to pay obligations two years away caused a disagreement between members and helped fuel the reduction since the initial proposal.

“It is prudent to consider additional, advanced funding for these (pension) obligations,” Rotering said. “Providing additional funding today will save the City money in the long run.”

Naftzger wanted to take a different route and articulated his reasoning before casting his vote. He would have used other funds rather than raising taxes as some members of the community continue to struggle in a difficult economy.

“I share these goals but wish we were going about it in a different way,” Naftzger said. “This is challenging for people with fixed or low incomes. We are sitting on ample reserves which could have funded this.”

While the State of Illinois passed pension reform last week, it was not enough to back Rotering and the Council majority off their position.

“While the state passed a pension reform bill last week, the impact will not be felt for years,” Rotering said. “In the meantime, we need to responsibly and consistently fund our pension obligations, and meet the state mandate to be fully funded by 2040.”

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LO December 10, 2013 at 08:19 AM
Alyssa Knobel has voted with the Mayor on every single vote since she was elected. How is it possible to agree with someone on every issue? Of course it is not possible unless you are simply a puppet. It wasn't bad enough having one Rotering, now we have two.
The Q December 10, 2013 at 10:16 AM
great spenders of Other Peoples Money.......Rotering is the worst, she must go!
The Q December 10, 2013 at 10:19 AM
She is just another worthless Lawyer that has never run a business in her life but somehow she thinks she can run a large municipality......
Daniel December 10, 2013 at 11:39 AM
They are and have been bff. The council is stacked with her friends and everything she wants will pass no questions asked.
David Greenberg December 10, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Gee, don't you just feel so much better that the tax was reduced from the proposed 7.31% to a mere 4.85%? It's a decrease in the increase! (yes, this is sarcasm for the sarcasm-challenged readers). I understand the need to fund the pensions - but rather than raising taxes, "cut the nice to have's" to the bone, and take some out of reserves if necessary to complete the funding. Then come up with a way to continue to fund it with without soaking the taxpayer for more money. Further, as we go forward, we need to offer a different, sustainable investment vehicle for our employees. Something along the lines of a 401k with some kind of matching that comes out of a fixed pool of money. As I've said previously - set achievable, fair goals for employees and those who make the grade get the potential for a piece of that fixed pool of money in their account - either as a raise, or as a contribution to their retirement account. No more COLA's. No more basing contributions on salary levels. And as we go forward and the those in the pension system retire and pass away from this Earthly existence, we can organically move everyone to the 401k-style vehicle. Pensions were nice when salaries were low - it was a fair trade off. Pensions are not so nice when salaries are high, you juice them up with COLAs, and other sweeteners that are overburdening the taxpayers. If that means we don't get to spend $200K on flowers in the medians of the City, I suppose we'll just have to forgo the flowers then... or look for private donations...
Daniel December 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Agree David. thinking outside the box is not a strength of the Mayor who loves spending other peoples money especially since she is rich. Also, love the headline of this story about reduced property tax increase. Geez only in HP is a an increase of almost 5% reduced.
Meshephelous December 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM
$50 per year on a $500k house? And it's tax deductible on your federal income taxes? I really don't see how this is the biggest deal in the world.
Daniel December 10, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Meshehelopus: You don't take into account the increases by district 112, 113 and the park district. Plus it happens every year, good or bad economy.

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