Editorials

Hear that growl? It’s the government gremlins and it’s feeding time

Belleville residents’ property taxes could be going up, the BND headline said this week. You may want to criticize us, because it probably should have said “will be going up.”

Belleville aldermen voted Monday to increase the property tax levy, the amount of money they want from property taxpayers, by 4.67 percent. Last year they asked for $9.33 million and this year they want $9.77 million from property taxes.

In the past Belleville Finance Director Jamie Maitret has used the county’s estimate of all property in the city to project the property tax to be paid Belleville by the owner of a $100,000 home. She was criticized last year because the county estimate was off and thus her projection was flawed.

This year she’s not issuing an estimate because of that criticism.

Plus, her bosses are up for re-election.

But we digress. Let’s take a leap — and we can because we aren’t running for anything — and say that if they ask for 4.67 percent more, that your property taxes will go up about 4.67 percent. Last year that $100,000 home owner paid $733 for the Belleville share of the property tax bill. The increase at 4.67 percent would be about $34.

Now, the city’s total assessment might have grown significantly, so there’s more property across which that tax request can be spread. Or Belleville housing stock and commercial properties might have lost value, so your taxes could go higher than an extra $34. Or the state might smack Belleville with a high multiplier based on the discrepancy between assessments and sales prices.

But no one should really worry about the city’s share. Your property tax bill is mainly going to the schools, about 60 percent, and in Belleville the monster that ate your taxes is TIF 3.

With the state shirking its obligations to local government, with local pension obligations locked in by state law, and with other taxing bodies facing the same challenges, get ready to feed this municipal beast, and many more.

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