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Lockport City Council: Review of 2017 property tax levy shows $17 million of growth

Officials took steps to review their 2017 property tax levy Nov. 1 during a Lockport City Council Committee of the Whole meeting.

The numbers, as presented, aim to keep the city’s operation going in various ways through street repairs, the police department and debt payments.

Finance Director Lisa Heglund said the numbers she and city staff have are based on trying to capture what they can by using preliminary information.

“We don’t have final numbers, and we won’t have final numbers until the spring,” she said.

The calculations do not take into account some of the new warehouses and planned-unit developments coming on line. Will County is responsible for determining the assessed values of properties, and preliminary estimated numbers were provided to city officials in August.

A presentation on the property tax levy noted that Lockport’s new growth was valued at $42 million. Last year, the city had $17 million of new growth. Heglund said that is a big deal for Lockport.

This year, the consumer price index, or the rate of inflation, is 2.1 percent. Reviewing last year’s numbers, the CPI amounted to 0.7 percent.

“We’re estimating the [equalized assessed valuation] to be up at $2,008,” Heglund said. “You can see that for the last four years we’ve been on the rise, which is a good thing for us.”

Property taxes make up 40 percent of the City of Lockport’s revenues.

History shows that the school districts make up 60 percent of the average property tax bill, with other costs stemming from services for fire and the City amounting to 11 and 9 percent, respectively.

Due to a rise in the equalized assessed valuation, Lockport officials are looking to lower the tax rate by 4.2 percent. That decrease could make for the City’s fourth consecutive drop.

Lockport officials are proposing to levy for a total of $6.3 million for 2017.

This year, the City seeks to capture an amount high enough to give officials enough room to collect the growth and CPI. That means a house valued at $250,000 last year is to pay $7.96 less toward the city’s portion of property taxes in 2018.

The council will hold a public hearing at its next Committee of the Whole Meeting slated for Nov. 16. That same measure is to be considered by officials at their Dec. 6 meeting to provide time for the City to submit documentation to Will County detailing the property tax levy before the end of December.

Potential reduction in school facilities impact fees

Also at the meeting, City Administrator Ben Benson presented information to the Lockport City Council on a measure to reduce school facilities impact fees by 50 or 100 percent and remove the annual fee escalator.

The measure, if approved, would take effect Jan. 1, 2018, by basing the council’s action on New Lenox and Homer Glen having applied reductions.

The City of Lockport established a policy in 2014 for local school districts to collect funds based on a set of conditions for which the area sees as it experiences growth.

An initial fee schedule for elementary and high school districts was previously adjusted by 4 percent in 2009, and it is to increase every year thereafter through 2025.

“This really affects new homebuilders in the City of Lockport,” Benson said.

The school facilities impact fees are meant to provide school districts with funds for new buildings, additions and improvements, so as to the extend money to make up for any shortfalls faced in the event of residential growth.

When the economy experienced a downturn in 2008, the city continued to collect fees.

Benson shared data during the meeting that shows the city’s fees totaling to amounts higher than those of New Lenox and Homer Glen.

The council came to a consensus providing direction to Benson to present information at their next meeting that will lower the cost by 80-90-percent than the city’s current fee, remove the annual fee escalator and require accounting from school districts when and if fees are requested to be increased.

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