Why Arlington Heights might raise property tax levy

Updated 11/14/2017 5:33 AM

Arlington Heights is proposing a 2.6 percent property tax levy increase next year to offset lower revenues from sales, income and telecommunication taxes.

It would mark the first time in three years that the village plans to raise the amount of tax dollars it collects from property owners just to maintain services. Previous tax hikes were earmarked for additional road improvements.

But officials say it's still less than what neighboring towns have proposed charging their residents, with some considering levy increases of more than 4 percent.

For the owner of a $300,000 house, the levy increase would mean paying $33 more to the village. The village represents 12 percent of a resident's total tax bill, which also includes schools, the park district and other taxing bodies.

"We understand property taxes are a sensitive issue and something we have to be mindful of, so we're very thoughtful before recommending an increase in property taxes," Village Manager Randy Recklaus said Monday night during the first village board meeting to review the 2018 budget.

Recklaus said sales tax revenues have begun to level off the last two years, as more and more people shop online. As a result, he said, officials would continue to explore new revenues to help offset the ones that are flattening.

"I think we need to reckon with the fact it is not going to be the same great source of revenue it has been for us," he said of the sales taxes.

The proposed $183 million budget represents a 2 percent decrease in spending from last year, mainly due to the conclusion of a seven-year parkway tree replacement program. Some 13,000 trees were removed and replaced in response to emerald ash borer infestation.

Expenditures are budgeted to exceed revenues, as proceeds from a 2016 bond issue for the new police station are being spent in 2017 and 2018. The village plans to spend $14 million alone next year on the $27.9 million police headquarters, which is scheduled to be complete in fall 2018.

Other big-ticket capital projects next year include:

• $6 million for street resurfacing, $1.8 million for street rehabilitation, $807,000 for brick paver maintenance, and $375,000 to replace sidewalks and curbs.

• $2.1 million to install large storm pipes in the Campbell/Sigwalt area west of downtown to prevent street and surface flooding.

• More than $1 million for a rebate program that encourages homeowners to install overhead sewers in their homes.

• $500,000 for a multiyear effort to analyze the condition of storm sewers, and $300,000 for backyard drainage improvements.

• $130,000 to upgrade the Evergreen Avenue parking structure.

A second budget review meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, with a third meeting, if needed, at the same time Thursday.

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