O'Fallon Progress

How does the city of O’Fallon spend your property tax money?

City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham
City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham

Last week, I listened to a presenter discuss the new and innovative ways in which residents and governments are sharing stories and successes of the local community in uplifting and powerful ways.

The speaker discussed the notion that there are two types of ways in which to communicate success: statistics and story-telling. Both are needed to tell an interesting and factual message.

Governments are great at sharing statistics and can easily talk about budget figures, property taxes, population projections, and other numbers. But many times, governments get so overwhelmed with statistics, they fail to address the story-telling, and therefore have difficulty connecting with the reader.

You can never underestimate the value of communication. Each year, the City of O’Fallon approves an annual budget authorizing the expenditure of millions of dollars. Yet, few people ever read the budget to know what is in it or to understand the services the city is providing. We try to fill the story-telling gap by providing our residents with information they might find valuable, important, or interesting.

For example, many think that the city receives a large portion of your property tax. When in reality, the City of O’Fallon receives only 10.4 percent of an O’Fallon resident’s property tax.

Many local governments would be happy with that statistic. But, there is so much more to share about it.

It has long been the policy of the O’Fallon City Council to fund city operations from sales tax and other revenue sources rather than property tax. In fact, in a 10-year comparison starting in 2002, not only is the amount of property tax you paid the city per year ($189) lower than the state average per capita ($356), but O’Fallon’s ratio compared to the state average also decreased.

In 2002, O’Fallon’s property tax revenue as a percentage of the state average was 68 percent and by 2012, was only 53 percent. This means that over the years, O’Fallon has increasingly funded city operations by revenue sources other than property tax.

What does the city do with that small portion of property tax received? Or in other words, what do you get in return? In O’Fallon, the property tax you pay the city goes toward emergency medical services, fire protection, police services, public parks, street construction and repair, snow plowing, and much more.

Statistics without a story are not interesting and stories without statistics can be misleading. That is why we need the ability to combine both, statistics and story-telling, in order to best communicate with our residents.

Facebook and other forms of social media have also revolutionized the way everyone shares and acquires information, news, and stories. Social media has also revolutionized the way in which the City of O’Fallon communicates with all of you.

If you have not already, I encourage everyone to “like” the city’s Facebook page to receive important information, updates, and of course, some success stories. You can find the city’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialOFallonIL.

The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.