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Local News

Lockport Tax levy expected to decrease again, as home values increase

Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com
Lockport
Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com Lockport

As values of Lockport homes continue to increase, residents will see a reduction in the city’s portion of their tax bill for a third year.

The city is expected to approve a property tax levy of about $6.3 million for 2017, according to a presentation by Finance Director Lisa Heglund at the city council’s committee of the whole meeting Wednesday night.

The estimated tax levy is based on an estimated tax rate of about .8757, down from the actual rate of .9143 for 2016.

Homeowners whose houses were valued at $250,000 in 2016 should see those values increase by about $7,000 and their tax bill decrease by about $7.96, according to Heglund. For houses valued at $150,000 in 2016, homeowners should see an increase of $4,500 in value and a decrease of about $3.85 on their tax bill.

Since the city is only working with nine-month estimates from Will County of assessed home values and increased growth in the city — and with some appeals pending on the valuations of some properties — the city may receive less than what it levies. The county does not give the city final numbers until the spring.

“We try to capture what we can based on preliminary numbers,” Heglund said.

Last year the city levied about $5.94 million in property taxes but ultimately received about $5.87 million, she said.

There will be a public hearing on the tax levy at the city council’s Nov. 15 meeting, with a vote for approval expected at its Dec. 6 meeting.

City Looks to Cut School Impact Fees

In a bid to make Lockport more competitive with neighboring communities in attracting more residential development, the city council is considering amending a resolution from 2004 to lower the impact fees the school districts require from home builders for new construction.

City Administrator Ben Benson presented a proposal to the city council’s committee of the whole Wednesday night encouraging the city council to reduce school impact fees by 50 to 100 percent starting Jan. 1, and to remove an annual fee escalator, basing this on New Lenox and Homer Glen having reduced their school impact fees significantly.

“We need to find a way to make ourselves more competitive again,” Benson said.

School facilities’ impact fees were implemented by a 2004 resolution because of the impact new residential communities were having on the local school districts which did not have the resources to improve existing buildings and infrastructure or to construct new buildings to accommodate the growth. Fees were set for 2004 to 2008 and then allowed to be increased 4 percent annually starting in 2009.

However, according to Benson’s memo to the committee, while new residential development slowed significantly in 2008 due to the recession, the schools have continued to collect and increase these fees. The city, meanwhile, has reduced some of its own fees as incentive for homebuilders.

According to Benson, the city has also never received accounting from the school districts on how these funds were being used since the resolution was implemented.

Benson presented the committee with numbers from surrounding communities like Homer Glen, Lemont and New Lenox for a four-bedroom home, showing that Lockport charges the highest overall fees. Its total fees for 2017 were more than double those of Homer Glen’s with which Lockport shares Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C.

After a lengthy discussion, council members and Mayor Steven Streit came to a general agreement that the impact fees should be reduced but not eliminated in case future growth spurts in the city would impact school districts — specifically grade school districts 33C and Will County School District 92, and Lockport Township High School District 205 — more than they would be able to handle.

Benson was directed to come up with a resolution to be presented at the committee’s Nov. 15 meeting which would set a lower flat fee [about 80 to 90 percent lower than current fees], remove the annual fee escalator, and require accounting from the school districts when and if fees are requested to be increased.

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