Braun pledges to hold the line on Flossmoor village spending next year

As 2015 comes to a close, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun has already set one goal for next year.

Paul Braun

He’d like a village budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year that shows a “zero rate increase” from the current municipal spending plan.

Braun called for a zero increase in municipal spending at Monday’s village board meeting, which included the passage of Flossmoor’s 2015 tax levy estimate. He said village officials need to do everything possible to keep property taxes at a reasonable level for local residents. Braun added that Flossmoor’s portion of the tax bill is much smaller than what residents pay to the community’s two school districts.

After the start of the new year, village staff immediately start working on the 2016-17 budget, which goes into effect May 1.

Braun told the H-F Chronicle Thursday that he and Flossmoor’s board of trustees have requested village staff to work towards a zero increase budget for 2016-2017. That would mean the village would hold the line on total village spending at the same amount as the 2015-2016 budget.

Village officials have been hearing from Flossmoor residents and businesses about “extremely high” real estate property taxes, Braun said.

“Residents complain about high real estate taxes impacting their ability to sell homes in the community and folks throughout the Southland are clamoring for property tax relief,” Braun said.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said Braun is specifically targeting the budget’s general fund, the all-important account from which many of Flossmoor’s day-to-day operating expenses are paid. Wachtel said she spoke with the mayor on Thursday and confirmed that he was speaking about the general fund.

“From my conversations with the mayor and listening to the board’s discussion the other night, I understand that the consideration of a zero percent increase is to demonstrate that for the expenditures that the village can control, the mayor and board are taking a hard look to ensure that they are not placing any additional burden on the taxpayer,” she said.

The total village budget for 2015-16 is approximately $22 million, with the general fund currently set at $10,226,600. Property taxes make up about 54 percent of general fund revenues, Wachtel said. The village has other funds – most notably for water and sewers – that are not supported by property taxes.

With the Flossmoor board’s approval of a total village tax levy of $6,086,271, that figure will be forwarded to the Cook County Clerk’s office, which will calculate the final tax rate for the village and other local governmental bodies.  Once the tax cap is calculated, the village’s portion of the property tax bills may show a slight decrease, Wachtel said.

Flossmoor’s portion of the property tax bill is expected to be 12.7 percent, compared to 32.7 percent for H-F High School District 233 and 32.5 percent for Flossmoor School District 161.

Village officials point out that the levy is just an estimate and that other variables in the calculation of the tax rate, like the community’s equalized assessed valuation and possible new state legislation, are still not known.

If there is any increase in the village’s portion of the property tax bill late next year, however, it is bound to be miniscule. 

According to village projections, Flossmoor’s portion of the tax bill will go up a total of 39 cents for a house with a market value of $200,000. For a house valued at $500,000, the projected increase is $1.07.

The village’s projected 2015 tax rate will drop one-thousandth of one percent, from 3.019 to 3.018, Finance Director Scott Bordui said last month.

In addition, the village abated a total of $3,720 from the levy. That amount constitutes a refund from the payment of general obligation bonds this year.

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