The “Vote Yes for Lower Taxes” non-binding referendum passed with just under a 90% Yes vote. That was expected, and additional evidence that people feel they are being taxed to death.
So if our Mayor and certain City Council members who are really pushing this effort, namely Councilman Coyne along with Councilman Krummen and Councilwoman Brodhead, are really intent on lowering taxes, it would seem that they would be laser-focused on reducing taxes in Naperville. We are, after all, the people who elected them. So what do we have coming in 2017? Lower taxes, right? Well, no. We’ve previously noted the proposed $3.3 million (7%) increase in property taxes in the City of Naperville for 2017.
The proposed 2017 property tax increase is on top of the 2016 tax and fee increases of: Refuse collection, $5 million (over 500% increase, from $2 to $12.35 per month). Home Rule Sales Tax (HRST) $6.5 million (0.5% of sales). Estimated at $8.5 million in 2017. Electric: 8.3% increase effective February 1, 2016. Property taxes (for pensions).
So in 2017 we have the proposed property tax increase of $3.3 million (7%) noted above. In addition, electric rates will go up another 2.4% on January 1, 2017 (City of Naperville Proposed CY 2017 Budget dated October 24, 2016, page 105). The HRST is being proposed to be used in 2017 to partially cover some expenses other than its original purpose, which was debt reduction and increasing cash reserves
You’re probably thinking that has to be it. They couldn’t be thinking about more, with the 2017 increases already piled on top of all of the 2016 increases. Right?
Well, there is this paragraph on page 17 of the 2017 budget entitled Revenue Enhancements: “Understanding that the main driver of the CY2017 General Fund increase is public safety pensions, staff is examining ways to fund this specific element through a dedicated revenue source. Enacting a dedicated revenue source in the coming calendar year would provide a long-term, sustainable and specific solution to this funding need that will occur year over year. Currently, staff proposes to offset the increase in the public safety pension funds through an increase in the pension component of the property tax. In the same vein, staff proposes to fund the debt service increase through an increase in the debt service component of the property tax.”
What’s that mean? Proposed higher property taxes of course, to cover pensions and debt service, in 2017 as noted and for the “long-term.” Debt service (payment of interest and principal on previous borrowing) is funded through a number of sources, including the HRST. In 2017, the proposal is that a portion of the HRST will be used to pay what used to be considered operating expenses. The HRST is scheduled to expire at the end of 2017. Can’t let a tax expire without replacing it somehow, can they? Even temporary taxes passed solely for the purpose of reducing debt and increasing reserves need to be replaced.
Then there’s this on page 113, regarding the Water and Wastewater Utility: “In June of 2016, the utility began work on a new rate study and capital validation study. This study is being conducted by an outside consultant, a recommendation will be brought to council in early 2017. The recommendation will include a rate structure that will support the on-going operations, maintenance, and capital needs of the coming years.”
What’s that mean? Higher water rates, of course.
So let’s recap: In 2016 refuse collection fees, sales tax (HRST), property tax (for pensions) and electric rates were all increased. In 2017, the City is proposing increases in property taxes on top of the already scheduled 2017 increase in electric fees. Both piled on top of the multiple 2016 increases. In addition, the City is proposing to use a portion of the HRST, which was specifically implemented to reduce debt and increase reserves, to pay what it previously classified as operating expenses. In addition to that, the City is proposing “revenue enhancements” in the form of higher property taxes for the “long-term.” Oh, and a new ‘rate study’ for water will be presented, meaning higher water rates.
So in two short years, this Mayor and Council have increased refuse fees, sales taxes, electric rates, is setting the stage for higher water rates, and has diverted a portion of the HRST to pay expenses it was never meant to pay. All on top of multiple property tax increases, in 2016, 2017 and additional proposed increases for the “long-term.”
Tell us again. Where do we go to “Vote Yes for Lower Taxes” in Naperville?