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Bourbonnais OKs tax levy hike

December 19, 2018

BOURBONNAIS — The Bourbonnais village board on Monday approved a nearly 8 percent increase in the amount of money it plans to collect from taxpayers next year, despite objections from residents.

At the same time, the village is reducing the tax levy for borrowing by a far more significant amount, officials said.

Village officials told residents they were required to increase the main tax levy because of increased spending on pensions and health care, among other costs.

The board voted 4-2 for the increase. The dissenters were members Jeff Keast and Jack Littrell, who are running for re-election next spring.

Under the general tax levy, the increase is $8 for a $150,000 home and $13 for a $250,000 home.

During a public hearing, a number of residents spoke out against the tax levy increase.

Darlene Wieliczko said she has one medication that costs $700 per month, yet was able to fit it into her budget by cutting costs.

“No one is helping me with that,” Wieliczko told the board. “My taxes have gone up so high on my home. I’m asking you to stop this. A lot of projects around Bourbonnais have been unnecessary.”

When she said she might have to move, Mayor Paul Schore asked her whether she would leave because of $10.

Wieliczko replied her taxes have increased for years, noting her entire tax bill, which is made up of other entities.

“It’s much more than $10,” Wieliczko said.

Finance director Mike Wolf said the village will collect $124,000 more under the new levy. He cited $360,000 in added costs for the village.

Among the increases are $65,000 in contributions for the police pension fund, $60,000 for health insurance and $167,000 to comply with a requirement to convert police radios to digital, Wolf said.

Resident David Falkenhan said he had no problem with the police radios, but he decried repeated spending hikes.

“There has to be a way to do things without tax increases,” he said.

Wolf replied to the public commenters that the village’s tax rate is far lower than other tax rates in the country. He also said the village last month abated $1.3 million on interest for projects around the village, which he said would save $201 on a $150,000 home and a $280 on a $250,000 home. That money is abated because the village covered the interest through its main account, he said in an interview afterward.

The mayor said the village was increasing the levy to pay its bills.

“There are communities in Kankakee County that are desperately behind with their pensions,” Schore said. “We don’t want to do that.”

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