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Replacement tax funds and a conservative attitude toward property tax rates have combined to give Monticello the lowest tax rate in an 82-community study conducted by Berns, Clancy & Associates earlier this year.
The Urbana-based engineering firm conducts the survey each year, and found the overall tax rate in Monticello for 2011 taxes (payable in 2012 was $6.24 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. The second lowest on the list was Savoy at $6.62, while Rantoul had the highest rate at $9.99.
All tax rates in a community were combined, so in Monticello that included tax rates for the city, schools, Allerton Library District, Monticello Township and others.
City of Monticello Superintendent of City Services Floyd Allsop called the city “blessed” in that it not only has a solid sales tax base, but receives about $1 million a year through Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, a luxury many towns do not have.
“There’s no getting around the point that without Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax money, we would have a difficult time providing the services and education and everything else without more tax dollars.”
Monticello School Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said the community is also a “very tax-rate conscious” community, which shows in a school tax rate that has hovered around $3.32 for several years.
The schools are struggling with less CPPRT funds over the last three years, which have made for a projected $2 million deficit in this school year’s budget. But school board members are leaning toward approval of a tax levy in December that would keep its rate steady. They hope CPPRT funds – which at around $5-7 million a year make up over 40 percent of the school’s revenue – will recover next year.
Zimmerman said a tax rate increase may be necessary if revenues do not increase.
“We’re looking at revenues the same as the district had in 2006-07. If you’re running a household, can you continue to do that from revenues six years ago? Maybe, but you may have to cut some things out, and haven’t had to do that,” said Zimmerman.
Allsop feels that if the city is faced with any sort of funding crunch, city council members would favor spending cuts first.
“I would think the decision makers would look at how we can cut expenditures first before considering to raise taxes.”
Even if a tax rate is the same from one year to the next, it does not mean a property owner’s total tax bill will stay the same. If the real estate value goes up, it would still mean a higher tax bill.