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Residents Will Have to Pay More in Real Estate Taxes

Aldermen were split 4-to-2 in the vote to approve the levy, which raises real estate taxes for Oak Forest residents by about $27. The levy includes a $500,000 payment into the city's reserve fund, with a goal of reaching $3.5 million in reserves by

Oak Forest residents will have to shell out more of their hard-earned cash in taxes, after aldermen approved the 2012 tax levy. Residents in Oak Forest will pay about an additional $27 to the city in real estate tax due to the levy.

The levy, which totals $8 million, is 3.08 percent—or $240,031—higher than last year's levy, said city Finance Director Colleen Julian. The city arrived at that number after several meetings and by taking into account factors such as a deficiency in the general fund balance, city employee wages and other issues.

“The 3 percent presented today will sustain the 117 full-time employees that are currently in the budget,” Julian said. “It has a $500,000 surplus that is intended to go into reserves, to build our reserves, so that we show fiscal soundness for our credit rating agencies.”

The $500,000 addition to the surplus would leave a resulting fund balance of $2.4 million by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. Julian said the goal is to have the fund balance at $3.5 million by fiscal year 2016.

Though the city council approved the levy, it was with some disappointment, as Alderman Dan Ensing voiced his displeasure with not being able to lower the number.

“The only thing that disappoints me, is that after four meetings we didn't move anywhere on this,” he said. “We're setting aside 50 percent of the 1 percent sales tax that we raised for operating expenses and we're not using that at this point.”

He added that he hoped the city would be able to use that money to help out homeowners and reduce taxes. Alderman Rich Simon echoed Ensing's statements to the council.

“Now we passed the sales tax last year, which I thought was going to be used towards the levy, in order not to have a tax increase again this year,” Simon said. “I would very much have preferred a 2-percent increase and by using some of the sales tax we could have gotten down close to that.”

Julian said that her hope was that once the city reaches its financial reserves, the city will not have to levy the $500,000. She said the money could then be used for capital improvements and the city could issue a bond for debt service.

“That's my longterm goal,” Julian said.

Alderman Chuck Toland pointed out that the 3.08 percent increase only covers the 'status quo' within the city and nothing extra, calling it the fiscally responsible thing to do.

“It's not covering any extra bells and whistles,” he said. “The department heads wanted other stuff, but at this time it's the fiscally responsible thing to do, instead of pushing it off.”

He added that once the city reaches its reserve goal, the $500,000 could be a funding source for the city.

Aldermen passed the levy 4-to-2; Aldermen Simon and Ensing were the dissenting votes.

 

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phxdr December 21, 2012 at 07:53 AM
I have stated time after time after time that this is never ending in Oak Forest. Vehicles are given to employees for personal use...and we pay for it. Salaries that are just out of this world for employees. Most of us who are paying these salaries do not make that much in this town.
Rob December 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
The kid has 3 more years of HS at Tinley Park and then it's off to Indiana. Could the tax men of Illinois, cRook county, and now Oak Forest please say "Stick'em up" when the bills come so I know I'm being robbed!
Michael M. December 21, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Wait until the city and state institute an exit tax. They will still get you even if you do decide to leave.
Tired of the B.S. December 21, 2012 at 06:32 PM
At least that would be the last time.
joe orb March 02, 2013 at 12:44 AM
how can a public works employee make that much,there al,l way overpaid ...pretty sad thats the thanks the residents get i too will leave this city life with nothing to do here anyway.

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