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updated: 11/17/2011 5:47 PM

Rolling Meadows settles on 15 percent levy hike

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The Rolling Meadows City Council has agreed on a 15 percent increase to the city's 2012 property tax levy.

Levy discussions have been going on for several months. At times the projected increase was as low as 9 percent and as high as 18.4 percent.

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Mayor Tom Rooney said many residents contacted him with concern about a possible 18 percent levy hike, and he agreed it was excessive.

"We hope this amendment puts the city's mind at rest," Rooney said of an ordinance passed Tuesday to bring the levy back to what trustees said was a more manageable 15 percent increase.

A 15 percent levy increase will bring in an additional $1.5 million in revenue compared with this year. The owner of an average $200,000 house in Rolling Meadows would pay about $112 more per year.

Aldermen brought the levy down to a 15 percent increase without having to eliminate anything they considered key.

Instead, the city will move revenue from the refuse fund to the general fund, adding $325,824 and helping reduce the levy.

Rooney said there still is room for the levy to be decreased further before the council takes a final vote on Dec. 6.

He attributes the need for more money to the city having to play "catch up" for past economizing.

There will be no salary increases for any employees in 2012, but no layoffs are planned either, Rooney said.

"We have to find the balance between where does trying to keep taxes low become irresponsible versus where does trying to be responsible hit the residents too hard," he said last week.

Part of the balance includes contributing more money into the city's police and fire pensions, which have been underfunded for years.

On Nov. 8, several council members agreed to put an additional $200,000 into each fund next year.

"We would like to try to catch up because if we put it off it will just make it worse," said Alderman Tim Cannon, who said putting an extra $400,000 into the pension funds now will save the city money in interest later.

Budget discussions will continue on Nov. 22 with an additional committee of the whole meeting at 7 p.m.

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