ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council unanimously passed its 2018 budget, including a raise in property taxes, at its Dec. 4 meeting.
Alderman Kevin York, chairman of Elmhurst's Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee, presented a committee report that recommended a $10.2 million tax levy for 2017 and the abatement of all current debt service obligations for the city's general obligation bonds, amounting to $7.6 million.
"I believe that we've come to a good place with the recommendation, but I'd also like to add that none of us likes to raise taxes, period," York said.
The primary driver for the tax increase is an increase in the contributions to pension funds for police and fire personnel, and these contributions are mandated by statutory liabilities created by Illinois legislators, he said.
"Elmhurst police and fire are both exemplary public safety units with the finest public servants and the first responders that truly provide results that are above and beyond. ... However, the police and fire folks who serve the residents of Elmhurst are the...all-star players in a game that's controlled by the Illinois state legislature. It is this game, not the players, that is driving huge cost increases in this, what I consider to be the most important services a municipality provides," York said.
The tax increase is a 3.1-percent increase in the city's portion of the tax levy over the 2016 tax levy and ultimately about a 2.6-percent increase when the library's portion of the levy is included, York said. For the average Elmhurst home's property tax bill, the city line item would be a $16.77 increase and the library line item would be an $8.26 increase.
The $303,394 increase from the $9.9 million 2016 tax levy is exactly the increase in the police and fire pension contributions from 2016 to 2017, according to the tax levy report.
When it came to the 2018 budget, alderman Michael Bram raised concerns about stormwater property buyouts spending, which he wanted to reduce because of a carryover that already exists, and the York and Prairie Path underpass projected spending – which has been in the budget for a few years – of $150,000 general obligation bonds for engineering for the underpass.
Bram made motions for various changes in the budget but did not receive a second on them. He hesitated for a few seconds during roll call for the budget ordinance but ultimately joined the council in approving it.
Total expenditures, not including contributions from the fund balance, are at $181.7 million. Among the various items in the budget, administration expenses amounted to $1.2 million, elected officials will receive $58,300, Police Department expenses are at $19.1 million, fire protection is at $10.4 million, and street and alley maintenance is at $11.2 million.
Residents will see the increases on their June and September 2018 tax bills.
Alderman Scott Levin was absent from the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.