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posted: 4/30/2012 6:27 PM

Double-digit increases the norm for McHenry County tax rates

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A number of taxing bodies in McHenry County are seeing double-digit increases in their tax rates, and McHenry County Clerk Kathie Schultz says that's not surprising as property values continue to slide.

When property values go down, tax rates go up, Schultz said. Tax levies -- the amount taxing bodies request -- rarely decline unless loans are paid off. Those levies are used for debt repayments as well as operations.

"Taxing bodies have certain obligations that must be met no matter what. These were bonds that were approved by the voters and a lot of them were approved when times were very good," Schultz said. "Now that we have gone the other way, there is some sticker shock."

The tax rate for the Huntley Area Library District decreased by 11 percent over the 2010 rate.

"The library has been paying off a mortgage on the building, a bond, and the last payment was made in December," said Library Director Patrick McDonald. "This next year we do not have to pay that mortgage or bond, so that comes off the books and the result is a net decrease in the whole levy."

On the other end of the spectrum Elgin Community College saw a 27-percent tax rate increase for McHenry County residents thanks to a shift in the tax burden from Kane County to McHenry, said Sharon Konny, vice president of business and finance.

"Counties determine among themselves how much each county will absorb of the levy," said Konny, who added the rate is determined to ensure the taxing bodies collect the total levy amount requested. "We do the levy and it is up to the clerk's office to determine the rate."

Estimates show McHenry County will account for about 8.5 percent of the 2011 property tax levy for ECC. The total levy for ECC increased more than 5 percent from $63.5 million in 2010 to $66.9 million in 2011.

The first installment of property taxes is due June 11, with the second due Sept. 11, 2012, McHenry County Treasurer Bill LeFew said.

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