Fox Lake approves levy increase

FOX LAKE – Pointing to rising labor costs and a number of capital improvements, the Fox Lake Village Board approved a 5 percent increase in the amount it collects in property taxes.

The village doesn’t expect to collect all of the additional $169,000 it asked for, Village President Donny Schmit said.

A state tax cap limits how much some local governments can increase their levies by tying the increases to the rate of inflation, which will be 1.7 percent on next year’s property tax bills. First-year growth is not subject to the cap.

While the village is pushing for new development, it doesn’t expect to capture much in the next property tax cycle, Schmit said.

The board also plans to ask residents in a March referendum for permission to take out $6 million in bonds to resurface streets.

About 16 miles of streets are high-priority projects, Schmit said, adding that by financing the street improvements and doing them all at once, the village can get a better per-block rate.

The village also is looking to take out a $3.1 million loan with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to build a new water tower and main in the Holiday Park subdivision. The loan would be paid using revenue from a rate hike passed earlier this year.

The remainder of the extra $1 million a year generated by the increase will go toward other water and sewer infrastructure improvements and repairs.

Fox Lake ran a surplus of $392,000 last year, ending fiscal 2012-13 with $4.9 million in its general fund, which translated to 163 days of cash on hand, according to annual financial statements submitted to the state.

Some of that came from a rise in sales tax and video gambling revenue, Schmit said. The plan is to use that money to hire a community development director and improve public transportation.

The village is in the midst of negotiating a contract with its 911 center employees, who recently unionized. The three-year contract with employees of the Fox Lake Fire Protection District, which the village subsidizes, expires next year.

The village also is in the middle of contract negotiations with its police and sewer department employees, both of which include salary increases. The cost of health insurance also is expected to rise.

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