Winnetka, News

Village of Winnetka’s tax levy to remain flat, but resident fees are on the rise

Village of Winnetka staff received plenty of praise from trustees who reviewed the proposed 2022 budget this fall. 

And for Village President Chris Rintz the budget was even a bit of a surprise that the document lacked a tax hike.

“I don’t know of another village manager … that would even be willing to discuss holding the line on a tax increase for one year let alone eight,” Rintz said during after a public hearing on Nov. 16. ” … I didn’t expect (Village staff) to come back with no increase, but yet here it is again.

“We are blessed as a community to have some of the most highest performing professionals on our team and they do make our lives easier (as a council).”

Two weeks later on Tuesday, Dec. 7, the Village Council formally approved the budget that maintained a flat tax levy for the eighth consecutive year.

According to village documents, the Village of Winnetka will continue to collect 12.94 percent of local property-tax bills. That number equates to $1,294 for every $10,000 in property taxes. For a property-tax bill of $40,000, about $5,000 is received by the Village of Winnetka.

The Village expects to collect a total of $15.24 million in property taxes in 2022, which is a $74,293, or 0.49 percent, increase from 2021 that Village officials attribute to the town’s growth. 

“It’s a feel-good good moment,” Bahan said on Nov. 16. “When we start the budget process it’s not with the foregone conclusion that we can avoid a property tax increase. It’s ‘Let’s try.’ … We were able to find other efficiencies … and find a way to hold the line on property taxes. As a municipality, that is one of our main roles.”

While the Village is not requesting more property tax dollars, it will receive additional revenue through utility fees. 

With the budget, trustees approved increases to water, sewer and electric charges at the rates of 8.5 percent, 2 percent and 5 percent, respectively. 

According to the village, the bumps will annually cost an average resident an extra $74 for water ($891 annual bill), $9 for sewer ($454) and $95 for electric ($1,873) — a total of $178 more in 2022. 

The Village says, however, the increases are countered by a change to curbside refuse, which was reportedly selected by 53 percent of residents and results in a 20 percent reduction in resident cost — or $108 a year for the average customer.

Residential refuse rates reportedly will not change, but commercial refuse will rise 5 percent. 

Some less-universal fees are also increasing, including the plan-review fee, from $70 to $100. A $20 late fee was approved for vehicle-sticker purchases.

Tim Sloth, Winnetka’s director of finance, said in a memo to the Village Council that the new fee structure helps offset capital improvements, which are estimated at $31.9 million in 2022. 

The resulting budget anticipates $73.65 million in operating revenues compared to $63.05 million in operating expenses. The operating difference — 10.5 percent, or $10.59 million — will be used on capital expenses, as is an annual pattern for the Village, according to Bahan.

The remainder of the capital expenses will be funded by $14.6 million in grants and about $6 million in reserve funds, primarily from the Village’s stormwater sewer fund, which is projected to contain $9.4 million after the drawdown.

Since 2000, according to a village chart, the annual property-tax bill for Winnetka homeowners has increased more than 95 percent — from $14,065 to $27,481 for a home worth $750,000 in 2020 and now around $1.2 million. 

The Village’s portion of that bill has increased 46.7 percent ($2,423 to $3,555), less than the rate of the Consumer Price Index (54.3%); however, Winnetka 39’s and New Trier 203’s portions of the bills have more than doubled in the 20 years.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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