Homewood officials: Residents get their money's worth

Village officials want Homewood residents to have a clearer idea how their property tax dollars are spent, so they added a chart to the annual tax levy presentation that shows how a typical tax bill is divided.

Homewood Finance Director Dennis Bubenik presented the proposed property tax levy of  $6,324,211 for 2017 to the board of trustees on Tuesday. That represents a 4.9 percent increase over the current levy and would be within the increase allowed by the state tax cap law, he said.

State law allows taxing districts to increase levies by the rate of the Consumer Price Index — currently 2.1 percent — plus the increase in property value created by new construction. Bubenik estimated the value from new construction would be 2.8 percent. 

In a memo to Village Manager Jim Marino, Bubenik said the exact amount will be known next summer after Cook County assesses the properties involved in new construction, and the levy could be adjusted if the estimate is higher than the assessed value.

The total will be divided into three funds. The general fund will receive $2,496,290, pension funds will receive $3,221,920 and the debt service fund will receive $606, 001.

Bubenik said the village has been spending more on pensions than on day-to-day operations for more than 10 years, and the gap continues to increase. He said many Illinois municipalities are in the same situation.

He said the fact that the village does not have to ask voters for a tax increase above the cap is an indication of financial health. He said the village has not resorted to a tax increase referendum for 20 years.

He attributed that to the village's dedication to efficiency, and Marino said the mission to keep costs down has been a focus of village officials for years.

The village's property tax levy is about 10 percent of each property owner's total tax obligation, Bubenik said. 

To put in context the amount property owners pay for village services, Bubenik offered a breakdown of a $6,000 tax bill as an example. Of that, 10 percent would go to the village. The rest goes to schools, parks, library, the county and other taxing districts.

Of the $600 that goes to the village, $192 goes to the police department, $126 to public works, $90 to the fire department, $84 to pensions, $66 to administration, $30 to finance and $12 to the building department.

"Homewood residents get a very good return on our dollars," Mayor Richard Hofeld said.

Trustee Jay Heiferman said he was going to start carrying Bubenik's chart with him to show residents.

"I think it really is something everybody should know," he said.

The board plans to vote on the levy at its Dec. 12 meeting.

In other business, Sheree Henry was sworn in as the newest member of the village Veterans Committee. Henry is an attorney and a veteran who served in the Illinois Army National Guard.

A request by Grape & Grain to amend the establishment's liquor license was deferred until a future meeting because the holder of the license was unable to attend, according to Hofeld.

The board also approved the payment of bills totalling $676,490.66. Of the total, three items comprised about 78 percent:
  • $293,004 to the city of Chicago for water
  • $136,257 to E-Com, the emergency dispatch center
  • $96,677 for improvements to the Homewood Science Center.
The next regular meeting of the board will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

The village will host an community meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Marie Irwin Community Center, 18120 Highland Ave., to provide information and hear residents' questions about a proposal to seek home rule status.

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