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updated: 12/20/2011 10:59 PM

Carpentersville approves lower tax levy than first proposed

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While Carpentersville board members signed off on a much lower property tax levy than originally proposed, a recent change in state law helped them make it work.

Tuesday night, the board agreed to impose a levy not to exceed $10,895,648 -- after abatements -- which works out to a $3,427 increase or a .03 percent hike over last year's amount. Among other things, this levy covers the village's general operating fund and debt payments.

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During a heated board meeting last month, Trustee Paul Humpfer floated this particular levy as a way to give the taxpayers some relief. He also said he did not trust Village President Ed Ritter's promise to make scheduled abatements that would lower the original $13.5 million levy.

"Now we've just got to work on keeping that levy down and not raise taxes," Humpfer said after the vote.

Humpfer's levy, approved last month by a 5 to 1 vote, was about $500,000 less than the one originally proposed, with abatements. The original levy was based on worst-case scenario projections that dealt with funding police officer and firefighter pensions at an increase of nearly $500,000.

But those projections came in much lower than authorities expected. Moreover, officials don't have to spend the money now, because the state has deferred pension payments. So, instead of being required to fund 100 percent of the pensions by 2033, the village has to fund 90 percent of them by 2040.

"Finally, state legislators did something to help local governments," Village Finance Director Lisa Happ quipped.

Officials will move the $521,426 they reserved to cover the potential pension increases, to the general fund, which brings everything back to normal and helps avoid cuts.

"I know there was a lot of anxiety over board members that moved to lower (the levy)," said Trustee Pat Schultz, who voted last month for Humpfer's levy. "Thank you, Paul, for having the courage to say 'no.'"

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