CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College Board of Trustees approved a tax increase Thursday despite pleas from residents to hold the line.
The college is seeking 3 percent more – the maximum allowed under the tax cap law. But to capture all potential dollars from new growth, trustees approved – by a 4-3 vote – a 9.9 percent increase in its levy.
Trustees Cynthia Kisser, Carol Larson, Linda Liddell and Mary Miller supported the increase; trustees Dennis Adams, Ronald Parrish and Barbara Walters voted against it.
Crystal Lake resident Ed Salisbury said the college should look to cut costs before asking for more taxpayer dollars.
“We should all be outraged that in a declining economy you guys are looking at a 9.9 percent increase,” Salisbury told the board. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
College officials said they don’t expect to receive the full 9.9 percent increase, but have levied enough, commonly known as balloon levying, to capture all revenue from new growth.
“If we don’t ask for it, we leave it on the table and we don’t get any money for new construction,” Chairwoman Miller said. “I know it sounds like were asking for 9.9 percent, but we wouldn’t even get it. Three percent is all we get, and that’s just for new construction, if there even is any new construction in the county.”
The college is requesting $29.7 million in residential taxes next year. Officials expect to collect $27.8 million.
That means the owner of a $250,000 property whose assessed value is unchanged would pay the college $1.30 more on their 2013 tax bill. However, because home values are dropping, it could be more. Assuming a 10 percent decline in property value, as some municipalities are expecting, that same homeowner would pay about $30 more next year. Property values are finalized by the McHenry County Assessor’s Office in the spring.
Trustee Parrish said that Salisbury’s concerns were exactly why he voted against the increase.
“Perception is extremely important when people elect us to do this job,” Parrish said.
Adams, on the other hand, said he preferred to look to other revenue before raising taxes on property owners.
“I don’t believe the budget process should start with the taxpayers,” he said after the meeting.
The greater majority – about 60 percent – of the college’s operating funds come from property taxes, with an additional 30 percent from tuition and 5 percent from the state. The rest is miscellaneous income.
Property owners paid $27 million in taxes to the college this year.