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Lincoln Daily News
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Lincoln, IL  62656

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Lincoln mayoral candidate Kevin Bateman:
How can property taxes be lowered?

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To the editor:

Ive 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.

Its 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. Were 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 isnt 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, Im 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 rates:

  • 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? Its the elected officials who serve on the boards of the taxing districts. And the sad part is according to the Logan County Clerks 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 youre 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 our lives.

Respectfully,
Kevin Bateman
Candidate for Mayor for the City of Lincoln

[Posted January 16, 2017]

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