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Flossmoor levy seen as having ‘neutral’ effect on local property taxes

First the good news about the 2016 Flossmoor village tax levy, which was unanimously approved Monday night.

The levy, according to Mayor Paul Braun, is expected to be “tax neutral” and will not lead to either a noticeable increase or decrease in the village’s portion of property tax bills next year.

Based on the levy, Flossmoor Finance Director Scott Bordui said it is possible that the owner of a home with $200,000 market value could see a $4 reduction in village taxes. But he added that there are “a lot of variables” that can play into whether or not that actually happens.

Approving the tax levy – a projection of how much property tax money is needed to support local municipal services — is the village board’s final fiscal responsibility at the end of the calendar year.

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This year, village finances have been bolstered by the June opening of Flossmoor’s Meijer superstore, an exceptionally positive development.

However, village board members Monday also heard news about Flossmoor’s fiscal health that is far from positive.

Flossmoor’s equalized assessed valuation (EAV), the overall taxable worth of property in the village, continued to drop in 2015, the last year such a number was available. Due to the economic downturn of the last nine years, Flossmoor’s EAV has been falling sharply since its highest point — $310.5 million – in 2010. The EAV is now set at $192.5 million and that poses a constant strain on village finances as property tax revenues remain stagnant.

In a summary of five-year fiscal projections that were presented to the board, Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said Flossmoor will face serious challenges in the next few years, especially due to coming increases in police and fire pension contributions. Those payments, in the current budget, are respectively set at $649,034 and $217,600. By the 2022 fiscal year, they are expected to more to double and are projected at $1,390,290 and $449,516.

Meijer’s contributions to village finances are “significant,” Wachtel said, and will allow Flossmoor to buy time before deficits and other signs of “distressed” financial levels appear, and which might lead to future municipal service cuts.

Braun, responding to Wachtel’s report, said Flossmoor needs to consider two main approaches for the future – economic development that brings in more retail tax dollars and a possible one-half cent increase in the local sales tax rate.

Flossmoor is already working with developers who have expressed interest in opening stores and restaurants along Vollmer Road near Meijer. Braun said such economic development could be Flossmoor’s fiscal savior. Non-home rule communities can collect an additional one-half cent of sales tax following approval from local voters.

Meijer is projected to generate $259,940 in property taxes during the 2016 tax levy period.

The total village levy approved Monday, $6,300,590, shows a 4.27 increase in dollars over the 2015 extension from Cook County, Bordui said. The total levy ordinance, which includes the Flossmoor Public Library, came to $7,676,831.

The levy will be forwarded to the Cook County Clerk’s office, which is responsible for releasing property tax money to municipalities, schools and other governmental units after it is collected. Levies and EAVs are used to calculate tax rates.

Bordui pointed out that Flossmoor’s village tax rate, based on its 2015 levy, makes up 15.7 percent of the most recent property tax bills. Tax rates for Flossmoor School District 161 and Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 respectively make up 33 and 32.8 percent of property tax bills paid by local homeowners.

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