The final action of the outgoing Kane County Forest Preserve District Commission turned out to be a tricky balancing act that both raised and lowered taxes Monday. The result was not the unanimous vote the commission usually sees when deciding on the annual tax levy.
Commissioners hosted a special meeting just minutes before new forest preserve commissioners took their oaths of office. The meeting was for the sole purpose of voting on the district's various tax levies.
In the main tax levy that pulls in money for the daily operations of the district, the commission voted to increase taxes by about $210,000. That new money will pay for district employee raises of about 2 percent. While it amounts to pennies when spread among taxpayers, it still marked a tax increase, and several board members felt obligated to vote against the levy.
"It's only $210,000, but it still matters," Commissioner Jesse Vazquez said. "If you said during your campaign you're not for raising taxes, then what are you doing here? I want to be consistent with my vote."
Not every board member viewed the levy as Vazquez did. That's because the district will shrink the levy it uses to pay off money it borrows by refinancing some bonds. The result will be about $1.25 million in savings through lower interest.
"Even the most anti-levy raising board members voted for this because they understand the overall levy will go down," Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said. "And to look at it another way, we just added another 2,000 acres to the forest preserves without adding staff."
Hoscheit said the district's overall tax levy should be flat or continue to go down in future years as most of the district's bonds will be paid off within the next five years.