Property owners inside the city of Lincoln annually pay taxes
that go to various taxing bodies - the county, schools, the city of
Lincoln, library, parks and park district, veteran’s assistance and
community college. The tax is calculated based on an assessed
property value for the prior year and as determined by the Logan
County Assessor’s Office. Taxes paid in 2017 would be based on
values established in 2016.
The city of Lincoln presents the county with a dollar amount for the
annual tax levy. The city’s levy is then identified on the property
tax bill as percentage, it is a comparative based on the levies from
all taxing bodies. For example, the taxes collected by the city of
Lincoln from the 2012 tax assessment equaled 12.73 percent of the
total bill in 2013.
On the annual tax bill, the city’s portion is listed as “Lincoln
Corp” and is one line only.
When the city submits its tax levy to the county, there is a
breakdown of how the taxes are to be distributed. Included in that
submission are amounts that will go to the General Fund, as well as
amounts that are designated as payments for special bonds. Those
special bonds include the bond payment for the city sewer
improvements that occurred several years ago.
In the breakdown of the dollars levied by the city, published by
Lincoln Daily News before the public hearing, the General Fund Tax
was to be reduced by $50,000, but the portion going to the payment
of the sewer bond would increase by $7,055. The two adjustments to
the bill would then equal an overall reduction in the property tax
levy of $42,455.
At the public hearing, anyone wishing to express an opinion about
this tax levy was encouraged to come forward and speak to the
Wanda Lee Rohlfs
The first person to speak was Wanda Lee Rohlfs. Rohlfs is a resident
of Lincoln, a former city alderman, and is currently running for
mayor for the city of Lincoln. She came forward to comment and
question comments that had been made in previous council meetings
about the tax levy.
She noted that Rick Hoefle had said that he and Jonie Tibbs had
addressed the subject with City Treasurer Chuck Conzo. The three had
determined that the city could cut its tax assessment by ten
percent, and it would be ‘do-able.’ She then noted that the proposed
change was for an overall reduction of only 2.8 percent, but there
had been an additional option to hold the tax flat or the same as
last year, but designate that the $50,000 would be earmarked to go
into the Police and Fire Pension Fund.
Rohlfs said she felt that the city could reduce the tax levy by
$50,000, and also reduce city expenditures. With the reduction of
city expenditures, the city could then boost the amount of money
being placed into the pension funds.
She said that she had recently read a report that said Illinois was
losing one resident every four to six minutes. She said that she did
feel something needs to be done to help retain residents, and she
would support the tax reduction.
Ilene Owen was the next person to come forward. Owen recently moved
to Lincoln with her family, from Bloomington. She explained that her
family had purchased a home in the new development on North Union
Street. She added that the family had chosen to move to Lincoln
because her husband worked in Bloomington and she works in
Springfield, so it would be an equal commute for both of them from
Owen said her first-year tax bill totaled $7,400 and was $1,600 more
than her bill had been in Bloomington.
She told the council that she was sure that other people have looked
at Lincoln as a place to move to, but had not chosen to come here
because of the high taxes.
When Owen finished, Mayor Marty Neitzel did comment that the city’s
portion of the total tax bill is only about 12 percent. She added
that the proposal was for a 2.8 percent decrease and that City
Administrator Clay Johnson had verified that the city could reduce
the tax that much and still have sufficient dollars for city
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Kevin Bateman was speaker number three. Bateman is a resident of Lincoln
currently serving on the Logan County Board and also running for mayor of the
city of Lincoln in 2017.
Bateman’s largest concern was regarding the pension funds. He said he was
concerned that the city appears to be using the pension funds as a tool or
hostage. He commented, “The option that was thrown out Monday night was to use
that money to pay down the pensions. I don’t think we should use the pensions as
a hostage or a tool to convince people where this money should be spent.
In my opinion, if the city really wanted to pay down those pensions and do it
quickly, we would change from a 70-30 on the Utility Tax that was passed on to
the citizens, to an 80-20, or an even more aggressive (amount).”
Note: The Utility Tax, Bateman referred to is not a part of the property tax,
but is charged by Ameren Illinois in its monthly billing. In 2013, the city
voted to add a four-percent tax on gas and electric, and earmarked the money to
go toward paying down the pension deficit, financing bonds for new police and
fire departments, as well as bonds for the new sewer improvements that will be
mandated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
In Bateman’s proposal, the city would collect dollars annually to go into the
pension funds that would, in turn, have the pensions funded according to state
law by the deadline year of 2040.
The last person to address the council during the public hearing was Seth
Goodman. Goodman is a resident of Lincoln and also running as a mayoral
candidate in the February Republican Primary.
Goodman said that as a realtor in Lincoln he knows the property tax is a
detriment when families are looking to buy and relocate into the city. He said
that he feels that the city has to start somewhere in its work to become a more
attractive location for families, and this is a good starting point.
Goodman acknowledged that the proposed reduction was not a large amount, but it
was a statement. “The city needs to show people that we are making an effort,”
he said, adding, “Even though this is a small percentage, this is better than
nothing, and we have to start somewhere.”
When Goodman left the speakers table, Neitzel called for anyone else who wished
to speak to come forward, no one did. She then concluded the public hearing
portion of the evening.
After a few minutes, allowing time for the city’s recording equipment to reset,
the city then adjourned for a special voting session.