Lower taxes have been quite the topic lately in Naperville. There is a group called the Naperville/Aurora Residents for Lower Taxes; there are non-binding referendums on the November ballot regarding consolidation of the Naperville Road District; there are signs seemingly everywhere in Naperville urging residents to 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes'; there is a PAC founded by a candidate for Naperville City Council (Mike Issac) to support the efforts.
Naperville Township of course contests the City of Naperville's claim of $800,000 in efficiencies to be achieved. Frankly, we don't have enough information to know who’s right , or whether the true answer is somewhere in between. We do have a healthy skepticism of elected officials promising tax savings, and are inclined to ask questions and want details before believing their claims.
As we have written, we believe Township matters are best addressed by the Township, with City officials focusing on City matters. Again, we question the motive of City officials who increased City of Naperville taxes over $11.5 million this year alone now devoting significant time and effort on a non-binding referendum to 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes' in the Township, which they claim will total $800,000, roughly half of which would go to about 40% of Naperville households.
We too believe Naperville taxes are much too high and fully support lower taxes. So we're very glad to hear that our elected City of Naperville officials recognize the need for lower taxes. We believe that a feeling among elected City of Naperville officials that there is a need to 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes' is an excellent perspective for them to bring to the process which begins this upcoming week: The 2017 City of Naperville Budget.
So given all the 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes' efforts and spotlight, we can expect that the Mayor and Council, especially those leading the charge to 'Lower Taxes' such as Councilman Coyne, will lower our property taxes in the City of Naperville as well, right? That is the budget they control. No need for a referendum, PACs, agreements with the Township or anything else. That budget is all theirs. That is where we get to see their true tax-cutting mettle.
So you can imagine our surprise when we glanced at the 2017 Annual Budget and Capital Improvement Program. Page 94 includes the following paragraph:
"Property taxes receipts [sic] in the General Fund are estimated at $22.8 million an increase of $2.1 million from prior year. The driving factor being increased costs associated with the public safety pension funds."
(That's not the only thing that caught our eye in the 580 pages, but we'll focus on property taxes for now.) We did mention our healthy skepticism of elected officials promising tax savings, right?
Well now. Really? A 10% increase in property taxes in 2017 in the general fund? From the “Vote Yes for Lower Taxes” crowd?
Consider this, from page 96 of the same City of Naperville report:
Property Tax Receipts:
Calendar year 2015 Actual: $17,512,679
Calendar year 2016 Projected: $20,712,569
Calendar Year 2017 Proposed Budget: $22,788,432
There's the proposed 10% increase in 2017. Also take a look at the increase from 2015 to the proposed 2017. That's a proposed 30% increase in two years in the general fund alone. Overall property taxes, including debt service and the library which are also being increased, are proposed to increase $3.3 million, from $47.9 million to $51.2 million, or just under 7% (page 27). This administration and Council voted for the 2016 budget, their very first, by increasing garbage fees, implementing a Home Rule Sales Tax of 0.5%, and as noted above, increasing property taxes. Now they're out campaigning for us to 'Vote Yes to Lower Taxes' while proposing to raise property taxes $3.3 million in 2017, almost 7%.
Look at the list of attendees at the September 28th fundraiser for the PAC for the 'Naperville/Aurora Residents for Lower Taxes.' The Mayor, Councilman Krummen, Councilwoman Brodhead, Councilwoman Gustin and of course Councilman Coyne, among others. They're attending fundraisers to support a 'Lower Taxes' PAC, while at the same time proposing a property tax increase of $3.3 in 2017 on top of all the increased taxes in 2016.
That is the group supporting the 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes' campaign while giving us increase after increase after increase.
Just think about that for a minute.
We're just simple residents not politicians, so someone needs to explain this to us.
Mayor and Council members, help us out here: how do you mount the 'Vote Yes for Lower Taxes' campaign while at the same time proposing a $3.3 million increase in property taxes in 2017, on top of the Home Rule Sales Tax, the refuse fee increase, and the property tax increase in 2016?