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Article posted: 11/16/2012 4:39 PM

Property tax levy down, water rates up in LITH

By Elena Ferrarin

For the second year in a row, Lake in the Hills is planning to reduce its property tax levy while increasing water rates and giving raises to employees.

The general fund, which accounts for day-to-day operations, is projected to be balanced at $16.25 million in 2013, with a tiny end-of-year surplus of $2,130; there will be nearly $5.8 million in reserves after the early repayment of 2006 bonds for the public works facility, Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said.

The 2013 budget, which is expected to be up for approval by the village board Dec. 13, includes a 1.2-percent reduction compared to this year's tax extension, Sagona said. The village, which represents just more than 9 percent of residents' tax bills, also reduced its property tax levy last year.

The budget proposes 2-percent cost-of-living raises for nonunion employees, and raises as per contract for union employees. Prior to 2012, nonunion employees hadn't received raises in two years. Nearly 120 people work for Lake in the Hills, with no additional full-time positions requested for 2013, Sagona said. Medical insurance premiums, which decreased by 4 percent in 2012, will increase by 10 percent effective July 1.

Though water rates will increase again in 2013, the 3-percent increase -- or 40 cents a month for customers who use 800 cubic feet of water per quarter -- will be lower than initially anticipated, Sagona said. Last year, officials had projected 5-percent increases for the next five years to pay for water main replacement, scheduled for completion in 2015. The increase is expected to stay at 3 percent for the next three years, he said.

The police department's $7.6 million budget calls for the replacement of four squad cars for a total of $113,000. The finance department's $600,000 budget includes a nearly $18,800 expense to upgrade computers from Microsoft Office 2003 to the 2010 version, and $17,700 for 12 workstations and seven laptop computers.

The $1.7 million parks and recreation budget includes $4,000 to design a possible memorial at Larsen Park, and capital expenses like a lightning detection system at Indian Trail Beach, drinking fountains at Sunset Park and Ryder Park, a fishing pier at Barbara Key Park, and a wet play area, like a splashpad, in a yet-to-be-determined location convenient for residents east of Randall Road, Sagona said.

A public budget hearing will be scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

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