Politics & Government

St. Clair County tax levy jumps 5% for 2020, but does that mean your taxes will go up?

The St. Clair County Board has raised the tax levy by 5% for 2020, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your property taxes will go up.

The county increased the tax levy last year by 5%, too, only to abate the portion it didn’t need.

The latest ordinance sets a levy of $75 million for next year, with a possible abatement in the future when the county’s finances for the year are more set.

In 2018, the tax levy increased from the $68 million tax levy approved to $71.5 million for 2019. The tax levy was increased by roughly 5 percent then, too, and was later abated.

Local governments set property tax levies based on the maximum number needed to cover budgets in the coming year, but the actual value of the property being taxed won’t be known until the spring, when assessments and tax multipliers are in place.

In the spring when values are assessed, the county can retrofit the tax rate to what is actually needed to pay the county’s bills. Then the county abates the tax levy, typically to a lower amount. That’s how the process works.

Board members Mike O’Donnell, Kevin Dawson, Dean Pruett, Nicholas Miller, Steve Reeb and Ed Cockrell voted against the new levy.

Cockrell argued that a truth in taxation hearing needed to be held due to the amount the levy was increased.

Board Chairman Mark Kern said a hearing wasn’t needed but said the county attorney would make sure that was the case. He added that every year some board members argue that taxes will go up because the levy does, but that’s usually not the case.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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