Friday, November 24, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a Nov. 21 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously for a resolution approving an estimated property tax levy of $19,470,830, which is the money that the village raises from property taxes in order to fund necessary government services.
This year’s levy represents a 3 percent increase over the 2016 levy, which totaled $18,891,952. Village officials said the year-over-year increase in the cost of village government is pretty tame compared to last year, when the total 2016 tax levy was 13 percent higher than the 2015 levy.
The increase was primarily driven by the significant amount of money the village had to pay into its police and fire pension funds, which are separate from the village’s corporate fund.
Due to a state law requiring municipalities to make annual contributions that would increase pension funding levels to a 90 percent “fully-funded” threshold by 2040, the tax levy requirements for Maywood’s fire pension fund increased from $2,428,188 in 2015 to $2,601,079 in 2016 — an increase of 7 percent. Tax levy requirements for the police pension fund increased from $2,533,343 in 2015 to $4,013,846 in 2016 — an increase of 58 percent.
Those increases, village officials explained at the time, were based on unfunded liability, which reflects the amount of money that should have been included in the funds, in addition to factors such as newly hired employees, retiring employees and salary increases that drive up the cost of pensions year to year.
Last November, Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet said that the levies for the village’s pension and debt service funds are virtually set in stone and the board has no power to alter them.
This year, however, the village wasn’t required to pay nearly as much into its police and fire pension funds. For 2017, the required fire pension fund payments increased by just 2.6 percent over last year’s payments — from $2,601,079 to $2,691,888 — while required police pension fund payments increase by roughly 2 percent — from $4,013,846 to $4,136,079.
This year, the village board members are looking to levy $12,560,363 for its corporate fund, an increase of 3 percent over last year’s levy of $12,194,527. Village staff members, including Village Manager Willie Norfleet and the village’s finance director, Lanya Satchell, had recommended a 5 percent increase in the corporate fund.
A chart showing the 2017 estimated tax levy compared with last year’s actual levy. | Village of Maywood
In each year since at least 2015, village board members have opted for 3 percent increases in the corporate fund, against recommendations by village staff to go with 5 percent increases.
Board members have argued that going above a 3 percent annual increase in the corporate fund would place an additional tax burden on residents who, they have argued, are already overtaxed.
But staff has argued that by opting for 3 percent increases, the board is only covering its contractual obligations, such as mandatory pension payments, with barely any new revenue raised to cover money that may be needed for service improvements, fleet upgrades and other expenses — which come from the corporate levy.
The difference between staff’s recommended 5 percent increases and the 3 percent increases voted on by the board in 2016 and 2017 is nearly $500,000 in revenue.
Although the village is required to present a balanced budget each year, the board can spend beyond what it has allocated in its corporate levy by passing budget amendments. Typically, those additional expenditures come from other, non-corporate, funds, such as the village’s rainy day fund or its TIF funds.
“We need to work with 3 percent and not add anything to this,” Mayor Edwenna Perkins said during a Nov. 7 regular meeting where the preliminary levy was discussed. “We have to figure out what we can cut back on to at least stay with 3 percent [and] not go more than 3 percent.”
Some trustees, such as Ron Rivers and Antonio Sanchez, said that the village should consider the needs of the fire and police departments in discussions about the corporate levy.
“We need to talk to our fire chief, we need to talk to our police chief, [they] might need cars and equipment, and those have to be allocated for us to do it or otherwise you have to dig into other revenue streams,” Rivers said on Nov. 7. “At least have some input into upgrading our fleet.”
“I’m exactly there with you, which is why staff has recommended 5 percent,” Satchell responded. “That way we won’t have to take from what we already have for the contractual obligations.
“So, we’re already working on fleet, that’s something that’s in process right now. Public works has been fully upgraded and police is partially, we plan to finish that before the end of this fiscal year. I’m not pushing, I’m just stating what the needs are. Certainly whatever you decide, we’ll work within those means. ”
Satchell said that the village has also made steps to reduce the amount of money spent on outside contractors. She added that the upgrades to the village’s public works fleet should help reduce the need for outside contractors.
The village Board of Trustees has scheduled a public hearing on the 2017 tax levy on Tuesday, Dec. 5. VFP
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