O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon City Council approves new tax levy

About 90 percent of the city’s new tax levy increase will support funding the O’Fallon Public Library and O’Fallon Fire Department.

The 4.93 percent levy increase will make about $150,00 available for specific needs, avoiding reduction of service.

In an 11-2 final vote, the O’Fallon City Council approved the tax levy ordinance, which is in effect for the fiscal year between May 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, at its Dec. 19 meeting.

Aldermen Herb Roach and Robert Kueker were not in favor of the increased tax. Alderman Christopher Hursey was not present.

Mayor Gary Graham explained that the increase does not mean residents’ total property tax bill will go up 4.93 percent.

“The amount of property tax paid to the library and city of O’Fallon (which includes the fire department) makes up less than 2 percent and 11 percent of the total tax bill, respectively, so increases in these have a much smaller impact. The total property tax levy will go up approximately 0.3 percent to fund the library and 0.2 percent to fund the fire department,” he said.

Graham said O’Fallon has a large sales tax base, so the city does not have to rely on property taxes to fund basic city services, like police and streets. Property tax pays for 2 percent of the city’s total budget.

Compared to other cities in St. Clair County, O’Fallon taxpayers pay only 47 percent of the average, Graham said.

Using the median O’Fallon home value of $179,000 as a comparison, a taxpayer in St. Clair County pays an average of $1,107 in property tax to the city or village they live in while O’Fallon taxpayers pay $518.

This is lower than East St. Louis, Alton, Granite City, Belleville and Edwardsville.

“Not only is the city of O’Fallon’s property tax revenues lower than the state and county average per capita, but O’Fallon’s ratio compared to the state average has also decreased,” he said.

In 2002, O’Fallon’s property tax revenue as a percentage of the average was 68 percent and by 2012 was only 53 percent. O’Fallon has been increasingly funding city operations by revenue sources other than property tax.

The library hasn’t asked for a property tax increase since 1984.

O’Fallon Library Director Molly Scanlan said the library’s budget is $1,006,600. This year, the city transferred $94,000 from its Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and Social Security levy to pay the library’s portion.

The city wanted the library to pay its employers’ share of IMRF and social security, which is $110,000.

The library’s share of property taxes accounts for 93 percent of its revenue, Scanlan said.

“We will only be getting about $76,000 for operating costs. Our budget has been completely flat for over five years, and we have had to cut employee health and vacation benefits to keep providing service,” she said.

The library would like to provide additional training for employees and expand customer service through more help and materials, said Dennis Grimmer, president of the O’Fallon Library Board.​

“We operate (on) the lowest number of employees in comparison to any library that serves the amount of people we do and provide more service than most of them,” ​Scanlan​ said.

Last year, the library, which has a five-star rating, checked out 250,000 items, and 150,000 people came in and out. Currently, the library has five full-time and 17 part-time employees.

The fire department would use the increased funds for personnel and IMRF changes​

“It has long been the policy of the city council to fund the budget from sales tax and other revenue sources rather than property tax. For every $100 in property tax an O’Fallon taxpayer pays, the city of O’Fallon receives only $10.40. This means that the other $89.60, or 89 percent, of a property tax bill each person pays, can be used by the other taxing bodies in O’Fallon, like O’Fallon Township and Road District, St. Clair County, and O’Fallon’s school districts, to pay for the services they provide,” Graham said.

For more information visit the finance department’s website at ofallon.org/finance-department.

In other action, the council approved resolutions authorizing three contracts for Destination O’Fallon Project — the Millennia Survey of the Family Sports Park, at a cost of $19,100; the Fource Group for Economic Development Services for $70,950; and SWT for performing schematic design services for the Downtown Plaza Project, at a cost of $62,410.

The Destination O’Fallon Project includes a state-of-the-art multi-sports complex in the O’Fallon Family Sports Park and a new multi-purpose community plaza in the historic O’Fallon downtown.

The council also approved the final plat of the Four Points Center.