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County Board gets a balanced 2014 budget with a levy freeze

WOODSTOCK – County staff submitted a balanced 2014 budget with no tax levy increase to the McHenry County Board on Tuesday evening.

Next year's budget includes just under $247.5 million in spending, down $4.6 million from this year's $252.1 million budget. Much of this decrease is attributable to the end of several road construction projects, but the county also has held to a minimal growth budget plan.

This year's budget was down $6.7 million from the 2012 budget.

For the second year in a row, county government will keep its property-tax levy flat, and not collect the inflationary increase it is entitled to under the tax cap. The decision means the county will collect $1.35 million less next year than it otherwise would.

The budget will be on 30-day review until the County Board votes Nov. 19 to approve it. County government's fiscal year starts Dec. 1.

The cost for McHenry County government makes up about 10 percent of a resident’s property-tax bill.

County Board members voted in June to reject the 1.7 percent inflationary increase to its tax extension under the tax cap. Members chose last year to turn down the 3 percent increase the county could have collected on this year’s bills, citing struggling property owners irate that tax bills have been increasing despite the fact that home values have fallen. First-year growth – which has been significantly depressed since the bursting of the housing bubble – is not capped.

The tax cap law in place for more than 20 years has had an unforeseen effect since the bubble burst. When home values are rising, the law limits the increase that taxing bodies can receive over the previous year to either 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. But when values fall, a scenario state lawmakers never envisioned, the tax cap ensures that governments receive the inflationary rate if they so choose.

The budget will be posted later this week on the county's website at co.mchenry.il.us.

OUTBOX

What it means

McHenry County staff submitted a balanced 2014 budget Tuesday to the County Board that spends $4.6 million less than this year and keeps the tax levy flat a second year.

What's next

The board will vote to ratify the budget at its Nov. 19 night meeting. The county fiscal year starts Dec. 1.
 

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