Higher property values in Streator, despite proposed lower rate to lead to higher tax bills

Proposed budget balances tax request to get more revenue, lower rate

Streator City Hall

Chances are Streator residents will be paying more on their property tax bills, not because of an increase in the tax rate, but because their properties have been assessed at a higher value.

Property tax values have increased by about 11% in La Salle County and a number of residents have said their homes have been assessed at higher values.

Streator City Manager David Plyman presented a budget proposal Tuesday to the City Council that asked for a 3% increase in the amount of tax dollars Streator requests. The city’s tax rate would decrease by an estimated 19 cents to 3.5947%, despite asking for more funds, because the amount the city would be requesting in tax dollars under this proposal is lower than the percentage of property growth.

“This represents a $178.10 decrease on a $300,000 home, if you’re home stays at its value,” said Stephen Litko with Lauterbach and Amen LLC, adding that represents about a $59 decrease on a $100,000 home.

Not many residents’ home values stayed the same in the past year. Council member David Reed said his home had a significant increase in its assessment.

“That’s if you’re lucky enough to have a home assessed at the same value,” Streator Mayor Tara Bedei replied.

Tuesday’s budget talk was preliminary as Plyman said he will fine-tune amounts within it, and the City Council is expected to meet again in November to discuss its own suggestions to the budget.

Plyman told the council that the budget proposal takes into consideration maintaining affordable property tax bills for residents with the expected increase in home assessments. The tax request is expected to generate an $185,500 increase in general fund tax revenue.

However, the budget proposal would operate at a deficit, which Plyman said is OK. The city has put aside about 40% of its annual expenses in funds to handle deficit spending. With a chunk of that money being COVID-19 relief funds, Plyman also said the city had planned on using that money in reserves to handle the transition last year from a private ambulance service at no cost to the city to a city-run ambulance service.

Plyman told the council that the city still is a year way from realizing the full revenue from the new ambulance service. As billing still is catching up, the city becomes eligible for federal funds and the city will be set to receive more money from neighboring fire districts. However, Plyman said that because of the competitive labor market, American Medical Response – chosen to contract personnel for the ambulance service – will be looking to renegotiate its deal with the city.

In preliminary talks Tuesday, the council suggested improved playground equipment in parks as well as buying surveillance cameras as possible additions to the budget.