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updated: 12/13/2012 1:56 PM

Third year of lower property taxes proposed for Elgin

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Elgin is planning no new taxes and a decrease in property tax collections for next year, officials said.

The property tax levy in the 2013 budget is $26.5 million, a 17 percent reduction from this year's $31.8 million levy, Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said.

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This would be the third year in a row Elgin residents see a decrease in the city portion of their property tax bills if the city council adopts the tax levy on Friday night as expected. City staff members will give a presentation outlining what this means for the average homeowner.

Homeowners with residences having a market value of $213,000 pay about $1,142 in property taxes to the city, down from $1,291 for 2011 and $1,396 for 2010, Kozal said.

The 2013 proposed budget, also up for adoption on Friday, focuses on core services and maintenance work that was postponed due to the economic downturn, Kozal said.

Next year's projects include repairs to the Kimball Street bridge -- which will not be closed during repairs -- purchases of public safety vehicles such as ambulances, and roof work for municipal buildings including three fire stations, Kozal said.

The budget includes only one new full-time employee for building maintenance. Those services are contracted out, but it would be cheaper to employ someone in-house, officials said.

Total general fund expenditures for 2013 are estimated at about $98 million, or about $2 million more than in 2012, while total revenues are estimated at $108 million, or $7.25 million more than in 2012.

The city intends to use the 2013 end-of-year surplus of $9.95 million as a "working cash carry-over" to balance the budget in the years 2014-17, Kozal said. The money is also used to pay for expenses before tax payments are remitted to the city.

Water and sewer rates, as well as leaf collection fees, are staying level in 2013. The refuse fee will increase 1.5 percent, an increase that originated from the city's waste hauler, officials said.

The budget also accounts for $7 million -- $4 million more than usual -- for the combined sewer separation project because of additional revenues in the utility fund, said Collen Lavery, the city's chief financial officer.

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