Check out this year’s Forest Park Community Guide!

Online edition –>

A unanimously approved property tax levy for more than $5.9 million drew little comment from village residents Monday night, save for a lone taxpayer who lamented his ballooning bill.

The figure represents a 5.8 percent increase over last year’s levy and will be collected in the property tax bills received by taxpayers in 2008. The council voted unanimously to approve the levy, which stands at $5,920,995.

Though no one attended the brief public hearing on the requested levy, Mark Maroney, a resident of the 800 block of Thomas Avenue, addressed the council during the regular meeting. Maroney told the council that his property taxes have increased by 88 percent since he moved to Forest Park seven years ago. He said his property tax bill was $3,931 when he bought his house, but had risen to nearly $7,400 by 2006.

“My salary didn’t go up that much,” Maroney said.

Mayor Anthony Calderone responded that the village’s tax levy is only a small portion of a homeowner’s total property tax bill. In fact, the largest portion of local property tax bills is dedicated to the K-8 public school system, District 91.

“The village’s portion typically adds up to 17 percent of the total tax bill,” Calderone said. “The village’s portion of your total tax bill is one of the lowest.”

The primary reason for the size of this year’s increase to the village rate is that the tax rate increase for the Forest Park Public Library, which was approved by the voters in November 2006, will be fully phased in. The library referendum is expected to add roughly $500,000 a year to the library’s coffers.

Without the library tax referendum, the increase for the village would have been approximately 3.8 percent, according to Finance Director Judy Kovacs.

The library levy is requested through the village council because there is no elected body at the library.

Because the village’s levy is more than a 5 percent increase over the previous year, the village was required by law to hold a public hearing on the levy, which took place immediately before Monday’s council meeting. The hearing lasted for approximately two minutes and no one from the public chose to speak. There were only two people in the audience for the hearing, one of those being Roger Brayden, the executive director of the library.

Maroney said after the meeting that about $1,056, or 14 percent, of his 2006 property tax bill went to the village. Another $243 went to the library, he said. The village and library taxes combined amounted to about 17.5 percent of Maroney’s 2006 property tax bill, which is in line with Calderone’s estimate.

Property taxes amount to only about 24 percent, or $4.38 million of the village’s total revenues, according to Village Administrator Michael Sturino.

The levy is not necessarily the amount of the taxes the village will collect. Rather it is a maximum. The levy may be reduced because of property tax caps, officially known as the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, which limits the amount of the annual levy increase to the lesser of 5 percent or the growth in the previous year’s consumer price index (CPI). The CPI to be used on the 2007 taxes will be 2.5 percent, Village Attorney Michael Durkin said Monday night.

However, voter-approved tax rate increases, such as the library’s referendum, are not subject to the property tax caps, which is why the village’s total levy is increasing by more than 5 percent.