Friday, December 05, 2008
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City reviews tax levy

'Truth in Taxation' hearing set for Tuesday

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[December 05, 2008]  Prior to the Lincoln City Council meeting on Dec. 1, the finance committee met to review a draft of the proposed tax levy for the 2008 year.

Tax levy increases are based on the Consumer Price Index, which is a federally established measure of the price level of consumer goods and services compared with the portion of income used by consumers to purchase those goods and services. For the year 2007 the index was 4.1 percent.

Lester "Les" Plotner, city treasurer, explained to the committee that the 2007 tax levy, which is subject to tax cap law, totaled $1,368,717.51, and that 4.1 percent of that total would come to $56,117.42 of additional revenue that can be assessed through property tax.

The treasurer said that what had to be done, was "figure out what we would do to spread that $56,000, as well as we can, plus take care of the needs that we have in the various funds."

In the general corporate fund, the amount of $24,000 in 2007 was dropped to $10,000, while the liability insurance fund dropped from $200,000 to $126,734. The funds gained by decreasing these two line items will be added back to cover necessary increases in other areas.

One increase will be in the Social Security fund. Plotner explained that the total allotted would go from $50,000 to $90,000. The reason for this increase is that in past years excess cash in the Social Security allotment had been used to cover expenses in other areas. He commented, "When you rob Peter to pay Paul, pretty soon Peter needs money, so we're back in that position."


The city of Lincoln matches employee contributions to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. During a phone conversation with Plotner, he stated that for a while there was more money in the fund than was actually needed. Consequently, for a couple of years, the city assessed less tax for that fund. Now, however, they have reached a point that there is no excess, and the amount being appropriated this year is a reflection of the actual cash demand for the retirement match.

Regarding the firemen's and police pension lines, each would increase by $11,000, or approximately 3 percent over the 2007 levy amount.

Plotner explained that the last two items on the levy allocation are not included in the tax cap law. Consequently the total increase of $56,117.42 is reflected in the previously mentioned items only.

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For the 2008 tax levy, both the debt services (general obligation bond) and an additional fund for firemen's pensions have both been reduced.

The general obligation bond was calculated at $174,375 for 2008, a reduction of $4,056.75 from 2007.

An additional line regarding an adjustment of widows' benefits for the firemen's pensions was created after an Illinois state law change in 2003. Currently, two people who were benefiting from that fund have died, and that line has been reduced from $20,660 to only $2,000.

While the items under the restrictions of tax cap reflect the $56,000 increase, the increase of the tax levy on the whole will be considerably less. Also added to the levy would be $314,000 for line items such as wages, audit and ESDA, bringing the total levy amount to $1,601,463 for 2008.

Compared with the total of $1,567,679 from 2007, this constitutes a net change in the tax levy of only $33,784.

Even though the 2008 levy increase is less than 5 percent, which would mandate a public hearing, Plotner felt that it would still be for the best to hold a "Truth in Taxation" hearing. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall, and will be open to the public for anyone wishing to attend with comments regarding the levy.


Related article

  • City: Taxes
    What does the city get and what do they do with it?
    (Allocation of 2007 tax levy)

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