The DeKalb City Council has approved a property tax levy that is expected to drive down the City’s tax rate to the lowest level in nearly a decade.
The levy, given final approval by the Council on Monday, will reduce the City’s property tax rate to an estimated 81.4 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. That’s 9.15 percent lower than the previous year and the lowest rate in nine years. Also as part of the levy, the DeKalb Public Library’s tax rate is expected to drop 9.36 percent.
Mayor Cohen Barnes said the trend of lowering the tax rate is being noticed by developers, who could bring new homes and businesses to DeKalb and help lower the rate further.
“That year over year reduction shows (developers) that we are on track to become a competitive tax rate,” said Barnes. “Their interest in the City of DeKalb is much higher because we’ve proven at a City government level that we can do this.”
As in previous years, all the City’s property tax revenue will go towards the state-mandated contribution to the police and fire pension funds. In fact, the City will put another $1.3 million in sales tax revenue towards the pension contribution to help keep the property tax rate down.
Fourth Ward Alderman Greg Perkins said pension reforms are needed at the state level to lower the burden placed on property taxpayers.
“Until we do something about it, it’s a pending sleeping giant out there,” said Perkins. “Could we take the rate down further? Yeah, but we’ve got no indication from downstate that any of that is going to change. So, you’re kind of playing with a bit of fire with that.”
Due to the significant economic development on the City’s southside, the City will be able to increase its pension contribution while leaving other revenue sources available to increase primarily public safety services. The proposed budget, which received first reading Monday, includes nine additional firefighter/paramedics for a fourth fire station and three additional police officers. The budget comes for second reading and a final vote on Dec. 11.
Photo: Fourth Ward Alderman Greg Perkins (second from right) Monday discussed the effect of the state’s pension laws on property taxes.