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posted: 10/18/2012 5:05 PM

Proposed St. Charles levy raises rate, not tax bill

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While property taxes might increase for some St. Charles residents next year, it won't be because of the march toward a flat property tax levy.

A committee of aldermen voted Monday night to essentially keep the city's tax levy flat next year in response to a 5.16 percent drop in property values across the city. But while that will trigger a tax rate increase in the city's levy, that won't directly cause taxes to increase, St. Charles officials clarified this week.

"If a taxpayer paid $100 for 2011's levy, the average taxpayer would pay $100 for 2012's tax levy," City Finance Director Chris Minick said.

It is still possible that some St. Charles residents may end up paying more taxes to the city. In fact, some residents may also end up seeing their city property tax bill decrease. Kane County Supervisor of Assessment Mark Armstrong explained that's a result of property value assessment changes, not the city's tax levy. Armstrong is a St. Charles resident.

"If they are calling for a flat levy, and assume everybody in town decreased by the exact same percentage, everybody would see the exact same (St. Charles city tax bill) as last year," Armstrong said. "In reality, assessments are probably increasing or decreasing, and the change is probably not uniform. Some would see an increase and some would see a decrease. But that would largely be true no matter what happens to the levy."

In other words, if St. Charles aldermen approve the flat tax levy and your taxes due to the city increase, check with your local assessor's office. Property tax assessments can be appealed and sometimes result in savings.

Overall, the city's plan calls for a $12 million tax levy for the day-to-day operations of the city. That's the same amount the city has set since 2009. A variety of city employee pay freezes, union agreements reflective of the economy and employee buyouts have allowed the city to keep that levy flat. The largest cost of day-to-day operations for the city is employee salaries.

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