Metro-East News

If you live in Swansea, expect your property taxes to go up

Swansea residents with a home valued at $162,000 can expect to see an increase of an estimated $71 in village property taxes next year because the village plans to add money to the pension funds for police officers and firefighters.

The Village Board on Monday unanimously voted for a 19.2 percent increase in the property tax levy, which is the amount of money village leaders want from property taxes to help pay for village expenses. Taxing bodies are required to set their tax levy requests by the end of the year.

The police and firefighter pensions are the only funds that the board voted to increase; the other village funds will remain at last year’s level of funding.

The median home value in Swansea is $162,000, and a homeowner at that home value paid about $350 in village property taxes this year, according to Village Administrator Lyndon Joost.

Joost estimates that such a homeowner would pay $421 in village property taxes next year, up $71 from this year’s amount. St. Clair County will later set the actual property tax rate, so village leaders can now only estimate how much residents would pay in Swansea property taxes.

The village hired an actuary to recommend how much the village should contribute to the police and firefighter pension funds, and the board accepted the recommendations, which are:

▪  $1.03 million for the police pension fund, up 26.4 percent from last year’s amount of $817,487.

▪  $208,325 for the firefighter pension fund, up 181.78 percent from last year’s amount of $73,931.

Trustee Matt Lanter, chairman of the Village Board’s Finance Committee, said the state mandates that local pensions funds be funded at 90 percent by 2040. The Swansea fund is currently funded at about 60 percent.

“The longer it drags, the harder it is to get to that goal,” Lanter said of the increase in pension payments. “We just felt the clock’s ticking literally, so we felt it was time to make the investment. It’s not going to go away.”

Lanter said the village has good employees who earned their pensions.

“We don’t have any say over the program, the state mandates all of that, so we just have to provide the money to fund it.”

Joost noted that property taxes pay for only a portion of the village’s expenses. For example, property taxes will pay $200,000 toward the Swansea Police Department’s budget of $2.8 million.

He also said Swansea village taxes are lower than several other metro-east cities. In comparison, a person with a home worth $162,000 in Belleville would pay $1,100 in city property taxes under current rates, while the same person would pay only about $350 in Swansea, Joost said.