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Crystal Lake bumps
 up 2013 levy

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake City Council this week approved a 2.61 percent increase in its property tax levy for 2013, which is less than the 3 percent increase that limits many other taxing bodies under Illinois’ tax cap law.

Crystal Lake, as a home-rule community, is exempt from the law that ties annual property tax increases to the smaller of 5 percent or the rate of inflation, which this year was set at 3 percent based on the Consumer Price Index.

Nonetheless, the city held a public hearing this week on its levy in the interest of transparency, officials said.

The owner of a home valued at $250,000, assuming it has experienced the same overall decline in values since 2008, will pay $15.75 more on the tax bill this year, or $1.31 a month.

The levy is expected to bring in $14.78 million.

Unlike other cities and villages, Crystal Lake hasn’t had a general fund property tax since 1997. The general fund – the city’s largest operating fund that maintains police, public works, planning, building, vehicle and equipment maintenance, administration and legal – is supported entirely by retail sales tax.

“We’re pretty proud of this track record,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said.

Property taxes fund the city’s crossing guards, police and fire pensions, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensions for city and library employees, library operations and Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department operations.

Its largest levy is for the city’s fire and police pension funds, which are funded at 63.6 percent and 57.13 percent, respectively.

City officials anticipate the fire rescue budget will increase 1.86 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year because of increased costs that stem from firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement, according to city documents.

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