DeKalb City Council lowers 2023 tax levy for residents

Amended tax levy due to changes in property value assessments from County Clerk’s Office, says city

DeKalb City Hall along Lincoln Highway

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council this week approved a plan to lower its levy collection for 2023 property tax bills, an effort that city leaders said is meant to ease taxpayer burden after what officials said were a record number of property tax appeals this spring.

The council on Monday approved an ordinance to amend its 2023 property tax levy that initially was adopted in November. If not amended, the initial levy would have seen the city collect about $8.1 million in property tax revenue.

Mayor Cohen Barnes said the city felt it was important to amend its levy.

”We’ve worked on keeping our property taxes lowered and lowered and lowered every year,” Barnes said. “I really hope all the other governing taxing bodies throughout the city of DeKalb are doing the exact same thing, otherwise all the residents are going to see an increase in dollars in their property tax bill if the other taxing bodies don’t do exactly what we’re doing tonight.”

As amended this week, the city’s property tax levy now is estimated to collect about $7.7 million, documents show, after the countywide pool of assessed property value by the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office was about $45.6 million less than expected.

Under the new 2023 property tax levy, DeKalb residents with homes valued at about $119,185 should expect to pay about $966 on the city portion of their property tax bills, according to city calculations.

The amended levy is not expected to change the city’s ability to fund fire and police pensions, city documents show.

City Manager Bill Nicklas previously has said all the money collected through the city’s levy goes to pay off pensions obligations.

Council action does not alter the DeKalb Public Library’s portion of the levy, however.

Sixth Ward Alderman Mike Verbic asked whether the city can set the library’s tax rate.

”We can’t set their levy,” Nicklas said in reply. “We don’t have, as we did in the fall ... weeks to engage in conversation and back-and-forth and attend meetings and work out a compromise. We have three days. It’s not our choice. To not choose is to choose.

“[If] other taxing bodies are not taking the time and putting in the effort as you are to make the appropriate change, then that’s something that they’re going to have to answer for.”

Barnes said he believes the council made the right decision to call a special meeting this week.

”We worked over 2023 to get to the point of trying to get as many taxing bodies as possible to hold the taxpayer harmless,” Barnes said. “But you’re right. There’s only so much that we can do. I’m glad that we’re doing our part here.”

Nicklas urged the council to act on the matter with urgency.

”I think it’s imperative that we pass this, or else we’ll be explaining to a lot of taxpayers why we couldn’t take action,” Nicklas said.

First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Zasada expressed appreciation to city staff for alerting the council to the issue and how to address it.

”I’m glad that we’re doing this,” Zasada said. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Thank you for making sure that we continue to work toward holding the taxpayers harmless.”

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