Crystal Lake's property tax rate to fall, but homeowners still could pay more

City Council approved levy request with debt service abatement

CRYSTAL LAKE – The city’s property tax rate is expected to decrease 1.28 percent on next year’s tax bill, but projected increases to the equalized assessed value in the area could require homeowners to pay more than the previous year.

It all depends on property assessments.

The Crystal Lake City Council approved the city’s annual property tax levy request Tuesday. With the levy, the owner of a $200,000 home could see an estimated $12 drop in the city portion of his or her tax bills if the home’s property assessment remains the same, according to the city’s finance department.

But if an increase in a property’s assessed value equals the overall 5.61 percent increase in the city’s EAV, then the owner of a $200,000 home – for example – would pay about $46 more in 2018 than in 2017.

Taxpayers pay their property tax bills based on the previous year’s values – tax bills paid in 2018 are for 2017 values.

It is difficult to estimate how much each homeowner will have to pay the city, Crystal Lake Finance Director George Koczwara said.

That’s because the amount requested from each homeowner will depend on changes to assessed value of the homeowner’s property.

That value will be available in the spring after property assessments are made public. Early projections, however, indicate that the EAV could rise as much as 6 percent in parts of McHenry County.

Crystal Lake is requesting $17,070,984 in property taxes based on a tax rate of $1.56 per $100 in assessed value, compared with the 2016 tax rate of $1.58, city documents show.

Within the total overall tax rate for the city is a rate of 42 cents per $100 of assessed value that will fund the Crystal Lake Public Library, which is a slight drop from 43 cents the previous year.

Each fund supported through the city’s total property tax rate will have a smaller levy than the previous year, except for two – the city’s police pension fund and its firefighter pension fund. The tax rate that funds police pensions will rise from 20 cents to 22 cents, while the tax rate that funds firefighter pensions will rise from 15 cents to 17 cents.

“Additional dollars collected as part of the city’s proposed tax levy will be solely used for state-mandated police and fire pension obligations,” Koczwara said in an email.

To lower the tax levy, the city elected to abate $4,730,399 in debt service. The city will use cash reserves to pay the debt, which stems from a series of bonds. The tax levy would have been $21,801,383 without abatement.

About 10 percent of a property tax bill in Crystal Lake is attributable to municipal services provided by the city.

The city levies property taxes to pay for the fire department, library, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and pensions for police officers and firefighters.

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