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McHenry freezes levy for another year

McHENRY – Property owners in the city of McHenry can expect their municipal property taxes to stay the same or maybe even slightly decrease.

The McHenry City Council unanimously approved a property tax levy at its meeting Monday evening that is virtually identical to last year’s.

The council did not raise the levy last year, either.

However, unlike last year and the two years before that, the city is expecting an increase of 2.23 percent in taxable property, the vast majority of which is coming from improvements on existing property.

The amount of new property being constructed was just under the amount added to the rolls last year, still a negative number but nowhere near the plummet seen in 2010 when the amount of new property constructed dropped 80 percent in one year.

What that all means is that because taxes are determined by how much a property is worth, more of the city’s levy of $4.8 million will be picked up by improved properties, and those who haven’t had their property reassessed could see a decrease in their taxes.

Last year, even though the council did not raise the levy, property owners saw their municipal tax rate go up because the total assessed property value dropped by more than 12 percent.

A number of other area taxing bodies, including the McHenry County Board, also decided to freeze their levies this year as the overall economy and local growth remain sluggish.

The McHenry City Council also voted unanimously Monday to continue paying its debt obligations with its usual revenue sources instead of through property taxes.

Whenever the city acquires new debt, it is required to levy for the amount it needs to pay each year on the loan, including interest.

The city usually has enough to cover these payments and so the council has abated the amounts, meaning property taxpayers don’t have to pick up the difference, and this year is no different, according to documents submitted to the council by the city’s finance and accounting manager.

About 7 percent of a 2011 property tax bill went to the city. About 64 percent went to the city’s two school districts.

Property taxes cover about 12.7 percent of the city’s expenses. Its annual budget totals about $37.4 million.

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