Winnebago County taxpayers will soon pay more for their properties. County Board passes its $198 million 2014 budget with a higher tax levy. The last time that happened was three years ago.
County board members approved this spending plan by the skin of their teeth. The vote was 11 to 9; 'yes' votes came from Dianne Parvin, John Sweeney, Dave Tassoni, Fred Wescott, L.C. Wilson, Ted Biondo, Dave Fiduccia, Burt Gerl, Angie Goral, John Guevara and Joe Hoffman; 'no' votes came from Gary Jury, Dave Kelley, Kyle Logan, Kay Mullins, Dorothy Redd, Julio Salgado, Steve Schultz, Lynne Strathman and Jim Webster. Board members blame a $600,000 levy increase for the close decision; from $38.4 million to $39 million.
"Tax rate is calculated from the levy and the tax rate will go up $0.08. If we kept the levy the same without the $600,000 [increase] it would've went up [almost $0.07] cents anyway, so we're talking about a penny and a half is what the levy actually increased. For a $100,000 house, [property taxes will increase] $3.10." -says District 20 board member and Finance Committee Chairman Ted Biondo.
Opponents argue it doesn't matter how much or how little people's property taxes go up.
"Because the proposed budget is a tax increase on the citizens, I will not be voting for this." -says District 1 board member Lynne Strathman.
The levy's stayed the same for three years, so why is it increasing?
"The home prices dropping the way they are, as fast as they're dropping. Unless you raise the rate, 6 and 3/4 cents of that raise was just to keep the levy the way it was last year. People pay the tax levy, they don't pay the rate." -Biondo explains.
The budget also includes 10 amendments, adding items like a third juvenile courtroom and hiring eight new sheriff's deputies, who will amp up the county's Gang Task Force. That's all thanks to the levy increase and moving existing budget money around.
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