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Geneva City Staff Recommends Maximum Tax Levy Increase

City staff says it's prudent to OK a 3.43 percent increase in the estimated non-debt-related portion of the tax levy, for two reasons: (a) the final levy cannot exceed the estimation and (b) it allows the city to "capture" new growth.

City of Geneva staffers are asking the City Council to recommend an estimated tax levy in the amount of $6,526,710. That's an increase of about 3.91 percent over the previous tax levy.

But staffers underline that it's only prudent to do so.

The primary reason is that the final levy cannot exceed the estimated tax levy, so it's to the city's advantage—in terms of total dollars the city receives to run its operations—to estimate on the high side.

The danger of estimating low is that the Kane County extension can—and likely will—lower the final levy, in which case the city might have to make major budget cuts to operate. It's also a scary time for municipalities as the state of Illinois continues to hold off payments and examines ways to shift tax and pension funding burdens to local units of government. 

Based on tax-cap legislation, the city can increase the levy by 5 percent or the rate of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, plus the estimated value of new growth.

So, for Geneva, the estimated 2012 levy was calculated using the 3 percent CPI plus estimated value of new growth, at .43 percent.

(See the "Truth in Taxation" PDF screen shot atttached to this article.)

"In order to ensure that the city captures this new growth, it is recommended that the city pass a levy which is higher than what is expected to be extended by the county," Finance Manage Tom Dahl explained in a memo to the City Council.

The city's portion of the 2012 estimated levy is $4,757,979—up from the 2011 levy of $4,597,082. That's basically the amount the city can spend per year on city services and retirement funds.

The balance of the estimated $6.5 million levy is mostly made up of dollars the city owes for debt retirement, primarly from general obligation bonds used to fund capital projects, such as improvements to the city's water treatment plant.

The 2012 property tax levy estimate includes a 5.02 percent increase in the debt service levy, and there isn't much the city can do change that number in the estimated levy. The increase is due to variances in the annual debt service payments, Dahl's memo says.

The total debt service amount will increase by $84,621 bringing the total debt obligation funded by the levy to $1,768,731.

Last year, the City Council voted 7-2 in the Committtee of the Whole meeting to recommend a General 2011 levy total of $4,597,063—essentially holding the line on the number of dollars the city would levy year over year.

Holding the line on this year's levy is likely to be more of a challenge, for a couple reasons. One is that the city's tax base continues to shrink. Yes, the good news is that the city had more than $4 million in new construction since last year's levy.

The bad news is that the total Equalized Assessed Value of property in Geneva went down about 2.9 percent, based on the Geneva Township assessor's latest estimate. When the tax base shrinks and the levy stays flat, tax rates necessarily go up.

Holding line also might be a challenge simply because the CPI is 3 percent this year. It was only 1.5 percent for the 2011 levy. Politically, there's more to gain and lose in a city budget that always is struggling to provide the best possible services.

The city is looking at ways to provide services more efficiently. Also on the agenda for Monday's City Council Committee of the Whole meeting is a draft resolution to hire Voorhees Associates to conduct a staffing analysis.

The purpose is "tohelp determine the appropriate level of staff for the organization to meet its core service and operational requirements and help develop deployment strategies that utilize staff resources in the most effective manner."

Bob McQuillan October 22, 2012 at 06:46 PM
"so it's to the city's advantage—in terms of total dollars the city receives to run its operations—to estimate on the high side." That sentence sums up the problem with local tax levies. There is no incentive to cut costs and every taxing body asks for the maximum amount even if they don't need it. That is why the Geneva School District is sitting on $57 million dollars in reserves. Now that reserve is going to pay the extra debt service payments on schools that didn't need to be built. Tell me what you need to operate not the maximum you can get. What is this tax levy going to cost the taxpayers of Geneva? Are city employees getting raises? Are any positions being eliminated? Equalized Assessed Values are going to continue to decline for at least 5 more years. If the school district approves a 0% increase in the tax levy, the school taxes on a home valued at $288,000 will increase over $400.00. That is to just get the same amount in revenue as last year. If they take a 3% tax levy, the increase will be over $570. So we know the school taxes will increase no matter what. What does a 3.91% city tax levy do to the taxes on a $288k house. Don't forget the other taxing bodies, they will probably increase as well. The answer is simple, we need to reduce operating budgets not ask for the maximum amount of money possible. Wake up Geneva, you are being taxed out of your home by maximum tax levies. The government needs to do more with less, like we have.
G.Ryan October 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Here we go again with the "entitlement crowd." This city has a spending addiction with all its governing bodies. The pay gap with the public sector has widen by 34% over the private sector. Just keep spending Geneva and you will spend yourselves out of a town along with its patrons! Once again taxation without representation.The mentality that in order to achieve your goals and "capture growth" is to throw taxpayers money at each issue as a solution to your denial you have an addiction and cannot balance and MAINTAIN a budget. You have a MORAL responsiblity to us taxpayers to NOT SPEND more than you take in. Us taxpayers are not your blank checkbook or unlimited ATM machine. This type of behavior is a prime example of tyranny onto WE, THE PEOPLE.
normho October 22, 2012 at 09:17 PM
What part of NO don't they understand. Cost of living is up and we 47%-ers aren't getting an increase. Just say "NO" on this atrocity!
EnoughAlready October 22, 2012 at 09:45 PM
PLEASE contact your representatives and let them know that the taxpaying residents are firmly requesting financial responsibility: Mayor Kevin Burns - mayorburns@geneva.il.us Alderman Chuck Brown - First Ward - aldbrown@geneva.il.us Alderman Sam Hill - First Ward - aldhill@geneva.il.us Alderman Richard Marks - Second Ward - aldmarks@geneva.il.us Alderman Donald B. Cummings, Jr. - Second Ward - aldcummings@geneva.il.us - Alderman Dawn Vogelsberg - Third Ward - aldvogelsberg@geneva.il.us - Alderman Dean Kilburg - Third Ward - aldkilburg@geneva.il.us - Alderman Dorothy Flanagan - Fourth Ward - aldflanagan@geneva.il.us - 7 Alderman Ron Singer - Fourth Ward - aldsinger@geneva.il.us - Alderman Craig Maladra - Fifth Ward - aldmaladra@geneva.il.us - Alderman Ralph Dantino - Fifth Ward - alddantino@geneva.il.us - City Clerk Lynn Landberg - llandberg@geneva.il.us - City Treasurer Patrick McQueeny - pmcqueeny@geneva.il.us -
Kathy October 23, 2012 at 01:26 AM
NOOOOOO! Not just no, but HELL NOOOOOOO! Wow, talk about out of touch with reality.
Lisa October 23, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Well said. Thank you Bob!
Maddy October 23, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Geez, between the "Teamsters with Textbooks" and the City employees, it looks like they're in a race to see who can squeeze the last bit of blood from the turnip. (too bad that they're immune to shame)
Sue J October 23, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Thanks EnoughAlready. I am going to write them right now. Please everyone who cares about this community and its residents write to the mayor and your representative and tell them this "blank check" has to end. I feel like I am being held hostage!
Robert Jr. October 23, 2012 at 02:06 PM
It is time that the Geneva City staff see that they are no different than the IEA and GEA. Hold the line and manage costs. This manipulation of different levers to have non-stop tax increases needs to end. We also need to have transparency as to whether the offices of Mayor, or any City or County employees get to pad their incomes during the last couple of years in order to defraud tax payers during retirement years.I was disappointed to learn that there is a negotiated 6% increase in pay for the last years, for the sole purpose of padding retirement benfits in a recent release of information. This needs the same level of public outrage as the teacher's battle has been, both to be consistent, and to tell our employees that the employer is not happy with inability to control and manage costs. It will also show the teachers that the tax payers are diligent about all expenses and not just focused on education expenses.
Robert Jr. October 23, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Bob - you might win an election if you run for Mayor!
Robert Jr. October 23, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Figure out where the automatic cost increases are and eliminate automatic cost increases in government- these are critical times and legacy contracts reviewed for terms that no longer fit the economic times we live in. Public employees deserve fair pay and benefits in comparison to public employees for similar skill requirements.
Arthur Dietrich October 23, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I've been on the fence with "should I stay or put the house on the market and get out of here." I think the tipping point has arrived based on the latest taxing body saying they need more money. I can see next year's tax bill going up another $1K. Since my money tree in the backyard died, I believe it's time to say goodbye.
Joan Watt Lencioni November 12, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I did sell and am moving, sadly end of the month to St Charles.
Jack November 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM
"New Growth"? There is no "New Growth"--and there will not be for years. What dimension are these dreamers inhabiting?
David November 27, 2012 at 05:50 AM
The City of Geneva is just like the federal goverment. Obama should be our mayor. We wouldn't know the difference between him and Burns.
Martha Hanna November 27, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Just wait until the Master Plan for the east side of Geneva...and the Settler Hill project!!! Keep electing Burns and Donahue...Isn't Shodeen their big buddies?? Geneva will be taxed out of this world with the two of them running things. You ain't seen nothing yet "Shodeenville" I mean Geneva.

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