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Richmond approves property tax rate hike

RICHMOND – Richmond taxpayers can expect to see their property tax rate go up by 1.26 percent, the village clerk said.

The owner of a home valued at $150,000 with a homestead exemption would pay about $5 more to the village, which makes up a relatively small portion of the tax bill. School districts receive a majority of the levy.

The Richmond Village Board voted unanimously Thursday evening to levy $482,000 in property taxes for next year, about $22,000 more than last year. Some of that increase will come from growth, both from the few new buildings being built and improvements to existing structures.

A resident can’t see their taxes going to the village go up by more than 3 percent under a tax cap enacted in 1991, which ties the maximum that property taxes can rise to the rate of inflation. To increase individual rates higher than the rate of inflation, the government needs voter approval.

Owners whose property has been reassessed in the past year could see their taxes rise beyond the proposed rate increase.

“We don’t want to burden the taxpayers,” said Village Trustee Dennis Bardy, who heads up the finance committee. “That’s the last thing we want to do. We’re sensitive to their needs. We’re sensitive to their feelings. We’re sensitive to their situations. We’re trying to do the best we can.”

The increase was calculated to cover the increase in the cost of doing business, Acting Village President Pete Koenig said. The village is operating on a balance budget.

“Our expenses continue to go up,” he said. “Many of the utility costs that are involved in maintaining the village’s infrastructure are continually on the upswing.”

The village’s financial future is uncertain while it prepares to negotiate the terms of a $7 million loan it has with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that was used to build a wastewater treatment plant in 2004.

The loan was originally designed with the expectations that residential development would pay the difference, but the expected 224-acre subdivision on the north side of Route 12 near the Route 31 intersection – which was to be called Prairie Hill – was never completed.

If negotiations don’t work out, it will take “a total quantum switch” to figure out how the village will make its payments.

Raising the rates now in case that happened wouldn’t make a difference, Koenig said.

“We don’t want to jack up taxes for the sake of jacking up taxes,” he said.

Both Koenig and Bardy are optimistic about the negotiations. They don’t see a benefit for the Illinois EPA to not work with them.

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