Naperville considering property tax increase
Naperville is considering asking residents to pay more in property taxes for the first time in four years as it faces a projected $12.7 million budget gap.
The average homeowner could see a $24 increase in the city's portion of the property tax bill if Naperville seeks to levy a total of $48 million to support its fiscal year 2016 budget.
The tax levy has not been set yet, but it will be discussed at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2.
City council members on Wednesday cut the projected levy by $1 million, saying they want to challenge staff members to find savings and efficiencies in next year's budget.
"I'm also not convinced that we have done our utmost to set an amount that's going to hold up and be accepted by those who have to pay it," council member Robert Fieseler said.
The levy originally was projected at $49 million. Asking for that amount would have increased taxes $47 for the owner of a $367,000 home, which is the average in Naperville, Finance Director Rachel Mayer said. And it would have lowered the projected budget gap to $11.7 million.
If approved, the move to levy $48 million and increase property taxes would reverse a four-year trend in which Naperville lowered its levy from $49 million in 2010 to $45.9 million last year.
Mayer said one reason the city needs to ask for more this year is that more debt must be paid than in the past. Debt payments are set to increase by $3 million in next year's budget and contribute to the estimated $12.7 million gap, she said.
"It's going to be tough to close this gap," council member Steve Chirico said.
Chirico suggested the city levy $49 million to make sure it can cover the debt. Funds could be paid back to taxpayers later if they aren't needed, he said.
"The problem is if we don't protect the taxpayers with this increase so that we can pay for our general obligations and these bonds, then we'll have to literally borrow money to pay the interest, which is a horrible idea," Chirico said.
Mayer said the city council needs to approve the tax levy by its final meeting of the year on Tuesday, Dec. 16, in order to meet a DuPage County deadline.