A new property tax break for disabled veterans is one of the reasons Belleville residents with a $100,000 home may see an estimated $70 increase in their property taxes sent to the city.
The estimated tax for the city and library portion of the property tax bill will be about $788, up from $718 the owner of the $100,000 home paid last year, according to Jamie Maitret, finance director for the city.
The actual amount residents pay this summer will not be set until after St. Clair County finalizes tax rates this spring.
In December, Maitret expected the property tax increase to be about $9 for this same homeowner. But that estimate was based on the county expecting the equalized assessed valuation of property across the city to be an estimated $415 million. However, the assessed value of property in the city dropped and is now estimated to be $394.7 million.
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If your Belleville home is worth $100,000, you can expect to pay about $788 in property taxes for the city and library portion of your property tax bill. Last year, this same homeowner paid $718.
Mayor Mark Eckert said the main reason for the drop in the assessed valuation was due to the new property tax breaks granted by the state to disabled vets.
Maitret said county officials initially told her that they were unsure how the veteran tax break would affect cities like Belleville but that they believed the $415 million estimate was conservative. But it turned out there are lot more disabled veterans in St. Clair County than originally estimated.
Eckert said he and other metro-east mayors were “alarmed” by the number of disabled veterans who qualified for the tax break.
When the law was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August, the Illinois Policy Institute said the cost of the tax break most likely would be shifted to other taxpayers. The legislation was approved unanimously.
If a veteran has a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or more, then that veteran’s home is exempt from all property taxes.
There are two other levels of deductions.
Veterans with a disability of 50 to 69 percent can deduct $5,000 from the assessed value of their home. The next level deducts $2,500 from the assessed value of homes for veterans with a disability rating of 30 to 49 percent.
Budget vote looms
The property taxes collected later this year represent one of the sources Belleville uses to pay for its budget, which must be authorized by the City Council by April 30. A copy of the proposed budget is posted on the city’s website at Belleville.net.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be at 6:45 p.m. on April 11 at City Hall. After that hearing, the Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the budget and the full City Council will consider it on April 18.
“We’ve had a very challenging year putting a budget together,” Eckert said.
We still remain very concerned about the status and the condition of our state not having a budget.
Mayor Mark Eckert
“But I will tell you if you look at the budgets that Jamie and I and our staff have done and the council has supported in recent years, they’ve been pretty doggone realistic.”
One of the concerns Eckert and Maitret deal with is whether the state will cut funding to the city.
“We still remain very concerned about the status and the condition of our state not having a budget,” Eckert said.
The proposed 2016-17 budget’s general fund of $28 million is up 2.18 percent from last year’s general fund, which includes the police and fire departments.
The police department’s budget is $9.81 million, which is about 35 percent of the general fund. The second highest budget belongs to the fire department, which is scheduled to get $6.4 million, which is about 23 percent of the general fund.
New officers not in budget
Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore in a recent city meeting questioned why this year’s budget doesn’t include any new police officers.
In an interview about his concern, he noted that the city has annexed land to the east for a new apartment complex off Illinois 161, to the south for a subdivision off Frank Scott Parkway and to the west for a hotel, restaurant and sports complex valued at more than $100 million off Illinois 15.
“We are busting at the seams, and that’s great but that also requires more police,” Elmore said. “With growth, comes more burden on city services and I don’t see any plan for additional city services in this coming budget so it’s going to have to be in the next budget and it’s going to be with our backs against the wall, which I’m not very happy about.”
We are busting at the seams, and that’s great but that also requires more police.
Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore
Elmore said additional revenue produced by the new developments and reductions in other parts of the city’s operation may be ways to pay for additional police officers.
Eckert said Police Chief Bill Clay assured him that the current force of 85 officers can handle the city’s public safety needs at this time.
“He feels comfortable with the growth we’ve taken on,” Eckert said of Clay.
“Nobody wants to hire more cops than me,” Eckert said. “It’s a smart thing to do but it’s a very expensive thing to do.”
Eckert said it’s possible that the city could consider hiring an officer in six to eight months.
Also, he and Maitret noted that the new police department headquarters being built at 720 W. Main St. will increase the efficiency of the department and that a recently retired captain’s administrative duties will be handled by a civilian and that the captain’s replacement will be on the streets.
Capital expenditures in the city of Belleville’s proposed budget
- $13.2 million for sewer work
- $8.7 million for the new police department and City Hall improvements
- $2.3 million for extending a sewer line to the hotel, motel and sports complex off Illinois 15
- $600,000 for the city’s share of the North Illinois Street Streetscape project
- $304,000 for eight new police vehicles