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Lincoln, IL 62656
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To the editor:
I’ve had many people ask me how their property
taxes can be lowered. I felt it necessary as your county board
representative, as well as a candidate for the mayor of the City of
Lincoln, to try to explain how a property tax bill is created, and
how taxes can be lowered.
It’s usually thought that the value of your home is
the reason for high property taxes. But property is taxed according
to rates set by local taxing bodies. The county assessor determines
the value of a property and uses calculations from the State of
Illinois to arrive at the amount you are taxed. We’re all entitled
to exemptions the state allows which reduce the value of our homes
for real estate taxing purposes. And we have the right to object to
the value by submitting a request to the Board of Review. Even if a
homeowner isn’t satisfied on the county level, they can appeal their
taxes to the state. As for how the process works after the assessor
submits their home values to the County Clerk for taxation, I’m
going to use my home to explain how the tax bill is created.
My wife and I live at 455 Campus View Drive in Lincoln. Our taxes
for our single lot with our home for 2015 were $1,779.98 based on a
fair cash value set by the assessor of $76,390. We qualify for the
Homestead Exemption of $6,000 because we live in the home we own.
The county assessor taxes us 33.3% of its value as directed by laws
of the State of Illinois – so the amount that our home is taxed is
at 33.3% of its value, excluding the exemption, is $25,460.
To compute the tax rate for our home, the county clerk first looks
at what taxing districts our home is in. Each taxing district asks
for a specific amount of money to operate, based on what they can
legally receive in a tax levy. Taxing bodies include schools,
libraries, parks, cemeteries, counties, cities, villages, community
colleges and water, township, and township road districts. My home
is a situated in the following districts with the following tax
County tax .77935
Chester East Lincoln School 2.72761 ( Dist 61 )
Logan County Cemetery District .06071
Lincoln High School 2.35381 ( Dist 404 )
Heartland College 0.54495
Lincoln Library .38219
Lincoln Park District .80136
East Lincoln Road District .20067
East Lincoln Township .10335
City of Lincoln 1.19278
Together these rates come up to a total rate of
9.14679. The rate is calculated by taking the levy for the district
and dividing it by the EAV (equalized assed value or taxable value)
of all properties in the district. In our case, the total taxable
value of our home with exemption last tax year (2015 payable in
2016) was $19,460. The total rate for all our districts together was
9.1467. When multiplied by the total assessed taxable value of our
home, it comes to a total tax bill of $1779.98 (rounded).
[to top of second column in this letter]
Each taxing district asks for an amount of money,
but it is limited by the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL)
passed by Logan County in 1996. The taxing district also cannot
exceed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year as set by the State
of Illinois. So, if a taxing district decides to increase their levy
they can only increase it by the CPI. The County Clerk completes the
process of "extension" by calculating the total value (EAV) given to
them by the assessor and the amount the taxing district levies.
After the Clerk extends the taxes for each district based on their
levy request, the file is sent to the Treasurer for the preparation
of the tax bill and collection. So, our real estate taxes are based
on the value of our home, but also on another very important factor
– the total amount levied by each of the taxing districts where we
live. So, if you look at our tax bill you will see that the City and
County portion is 21.56% of total.
Who makes the decisions of how much the taxing districts request?
It’s the elected officials who serve on the boards of the taxing
districts. And the sad part is – according to the Logan County
Clerk’s website, election for these districts and boards has the
lowest turnout for the entire county in any election year.
Many districts have a hard time finding people to run for their
elected positions, yet these people are the ones making decisions on
how your taxes are spent. If you’re concerned about your tax bill –
get involved and run for park board, library, township or a school
board. Or attend their meetings to provide input on how funds are
being spent. Close scrutiny of how taxes are spent can result in
lower taxes, or better-used taxes. That is what I have done since
first going on the County Board in 2008.
Another way taxes can be lowered is if our community grows. With new
businesses and residents, the tax burden is shared among a larger
group – and that means lower taxes for all of us. This why I am
committed to making Lincoln a great place to live and do business –
so we can grow. I also want to continue to do my part to make sure
we practice good stewardship of our tax dollars in areas that affect
Candidate for Mayor for the City of Lincoln
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