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MCC seeks maximum under tax cap

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College taxpayers can expect to pay more to the institution next year under its proposed levy.

The college is seeking the maximum it can under the tax cap, or 3 percent. However, to ensure it can capture all new growth, the college Board of Trustees will request 9.9 percent more than the $27 million property owners paid in taxes this year.

College officials, however, are not expecting to receive the full 9.9 percent increase.

“The college knows we are not going to get that unless there is phenomenal growth in the district,” MCC Chief Financial Officer Bob Tenuta said.

The college is requesting $29.7 million in residential taxes next year, but Tenuta expects to collect $27.8 million.

The levy projections mean that the owner of a $250,000 property whose assessed value remains the same would pay the college only $1.30 more on the 2013 tax bill.

However, home values have been dropping since 2008 and driving up property taxes. Some municipalities are bracing for a 10 percent decline in values next year. If that’s the case, that same homeowner can expect to pay almost $30 more next year.

At a meeting last month, the college’s Board of Trustees was split, 4-3, on whether to seek a 9.9 percent increase. Trustees Cynthia Kisser, Carol Larson, Linda Liddell and Mary Miller voted in favor of the increase, while Trustees Dennis Adams, Ronald Parrish and Barbara Walters rejected it.

Adams said he was in favor of the 3 percent increase given that the college’s expenses are continuing to rise, but he called the nearly 10 percent request “absurdly high.”

He preferred to look at other revenue streams, such as a tuition increase.

“I don’t believe [a property tax increase is] the right place to start the budget process,” he said. “We need to examine expenses, examine tuition, and then look to the taxpayers.”

A majority, or about 60 percent, of the college’s operating funds come from property taxes, with an additional 30 percent from tuition, 5 percent from the state and the rest from miscellaneous income streams.

Because the college’s request is more than 5 percent of last year’s extension, a public hearing is required and set for 6 p.m. Dec 20.

The board likely will adopt the levy at the regular meeting that follows the hearing.

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