Elmhurst City Council on Monday approved a preliminary 2012 tax levy—or annual request for property taxes—of $16.76 million, a 4.19 percent increase over last year. First Ward Alderman Paula Pezza cast the only "no" vote.
Illinois' Truth in Taxation Law requires the city to estimate the taxes to be levied for the 2012 tax year at least 20 days prior to adoption of the 2012 tax levy ordinance, which is slated for Monday, Dec. 3. Aldermen will continue levy discussions over the next few weeks before finalizing the levy.
The $16.76 million estimated levy includes $9.46 million for the city and $7.3 million for Elmhurst Public Library.
The Elmhurst Memorial Hospital property is the big wildcard for all taxing bodies in York Township. While taxing bodies are being told to levy as if Elmhurst Memorial Hospital is taxed as a for-profit entity, the hospital has applied to regain its tax-exempt status; this process has taken more than a year.
So while the levies for the city, Elmhurst School District 205 and Elmhurst Park District once again will reflect the value of the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital property, all taxing bodies know full well that any tax money received from the hospital will likely have to be returned. Aldermen set aside tax revenue last year to reimburse Elmhurst Memorial should the facility regain its nonprofit status, and the plan for this year is to do the same.
However, adding to mix—and much to the surprise of Elmhurst's elected officials—the hospital also is asking for tax-exempt status on a portion of The Center for Health property retroactive to when it opened in 1999. Hospital executives are saying 54 percent of the Center for Health is for hospital use, and therefore the hospital should be refunded 54 percent of the property taxes it paid for the past 12 years.
This year, the city is planning to set aside about $440,000 from property taxes received to pay the hospital back, should it regain tax-exempt status. Last year, it set aside about $198,000. The library portion is about $270,000 this year, up from $122,000 last year.
In comparison, District 205 is looking at having to return $2.5 million when the Center for Health is factored in. The School District budget is $1.1 million in the red this year due mainly to the unexpected tax-exempt potential of the Center for Health.
The largest area of increase in the city's tentative 2012 levy is for its contribution to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. In 2011, it was about $600,000; this year, it is $680,000, an increase of 13.3 percent. The police pension line item is tentatively up 6.14 percent, from $1.8 million to $1.9 million.
While it won't affect this levy, aldermen discussed the city's planned transition from a May-through-April fiscal year to a calendar fiscal year. Finance Director Marilyn Gaston said the 2013 fiscal year will only be eight months long, and the calendar year budget begins Jan. 1, 2014.
Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee will plug hard numbers into the levy spreadsheet when it meets next week. Regular committee meetings will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, due to the Veteran's Day holiday on Monday. City Hall will be open on Veteran's Day, however.