City officials hold property tax rate steady

Staff Writer
East Peoria Times-Courier
This graph supplied by the city of East Peoria shows how property taxes are divided.

The city’s property tax rate history in East Peoria has not changed much since 1999. It spiked in 1987 at $3.13 per $100 of assessed value. From 1999 to 2012, the rates ranged from $1.30 to $1.23 per $100 of assessed value.

The total assessed value for East Peoria in 2013, which has a population of 23,402, is $425,951,937. 

City administrator Tom Brimberry talked about what East Peoria offers to its residents.

“We’ve got paramedics at all three of our fire stations. We provide garbage collection and curbside recycling at no cost and we’re the only community that I can see that does that,” Brimberry said, adding that the city is also not making a profit on water or sewer.

Darin Girdler, Pekin’s assistant city manager, supplied Brimberry with a 2014 comparison of annual taxes paid by Pekin residents compared to other central Illinois communities, including East Peoria. These figures are based on a residence value of $125,000 and an annual household income of $60,000.

“I think if you look at that comparison of communities they are going to

have a robust police department, robust fire department, services such as planning and community development, tourism and special events,” he said. “You can’t compare us to a Washington or a Morton that don’t have a fire department that has stations with paramedics ready to respond and the same full array of services that are being provided to the community.”

East Peoria’s total tax/fees per year is $5,052 compared to $4,917 in Pekin. The total annual taxes include the city, all other property taxes, sales tax, utility tax, motor fuel tax, local motor fuel tax, package liquor tax, telecom tax and garbage collection fees.

The city property tax is 13.7 percent of the total, while Pekin’s is 13.8 percent and Peoria’s is 11.3 percent. 

Out of the 11 communities compared, Normal is the lowest at 10 percent and Galesburg is the highest at 24.7 percent (for the city’s property tax) of the total annual taxes.

The city of East Peoria’s property tax in this instance is $512 with $3,214 being the remainder of the other taxing bodies portion. Sales tax is listed as $1,040, motor fuel tax is listed at $238 and telecom tax is $48. The rest of the categories are zero.

Looking at a Tazewell County property tax bill for a residence on Everett Street in East Peoria, the 2013 taxes payable in 2014 with a total rate of $9 per $100 of assessed value are $2,083.44. The tax bill lists Tazewell County, Grade School 86, High School 309, Community College 514, Fondulac Library, East Peoria Transportation, Fondulac Park, East Peoria Sanitary District, Fondulac Road and Bridge, Fondulac Township and East Peoria Corporate.

Brimberry said people’s property taxes can vary depending on homestead exemptions and where they live in East Peoria. For instance, those residents who live within the levee district have to pay a sanitary tax.

New development increases the assessed value of a community, which in turn, makes property taxes increase even if the rate stays the same.

In 1993, the assessed value in East Peoria of all property was $149 million. In 2003, it was $316 million. Today, it is $425 million.

“What’s impacted that has been the provisions of the costs of services,” Brimberry said. “The City Council has made a very conscious effort to lower the property tax rate from $1.25 in 2010 to $1.24 to $1.23 and they’ve kept it at $1.23 per $100 of assessed value for the last couple of years.”

Within the past two years, the assessed value has declined from $431 million in 2011, $428 million in 2012 and $425 million in 2013. Brimberry attributed this to the economic downturn of 2008.

“It was that real estate bubble lowering the value of all property I believe around the world,” he said.

While there has been an economic downtown, East Peoria is seeing a boom in retail development with the Levee District. Most of the Levee District properties will be added to the tax rolls for a full year of assessments this year.

The more property value added to the city will eventually lower people’s property taxes, Brimberry said. Over the past two years, the City Council has lowered the property taxes collected by $150,000, he said.

“We are cautious on how much we can lower property taxes because the property taxes in the Levee District have to initially go to pay the bonds for the infrastructure. ... When we get that paid off, it will have more of an impact,” he said.

The Levee District is a 20-year bond, however, Brimberry said it will likely be paid off before then.

County assessor Gary Twist said that Tazewell County is competitive with surrounding areas.

“Morton and Washington typify that, East Peoria being more in the middle of the pack. The county’s tax rate is one of the lowest in all of Illinois. In other words just the portion of it just for county’s taxes is below 50 cents. To my knowledge, there’s only two such county’s in the state of Illinois that could show that,” Twist said.

From a city standpoint, Brimberry said the Mayor and City Council take the lead in keeping the city competitive and attractive for residents “making sure that quality of life is high in East Peoria, including the services that are provided balanced with the cost of providing those and the charges to residents.”

“It’s a balance act,” he said. “We look at other communities and try to be economical.”

City officials communicate regularly with township assessors. East Peoria is divided into three townships: Fondulac, Washington and Groveland.

“There is a lot of new property that needs to be assessed,” Brimberry said. “We understand that that’s a big job with all of the new commercial construction that’s happened in East Peoria.”

Brimberry said property taxes are always a year behind. Taxpayers pay property taxes this year for what they owned last year.

District 86 Superintendent Tony Ingold said based on the levy for 2014-15, the tax rate will increase from $3.08 in 2012 to $3.19. Ingold said the increase is due to a declining EAV and a lack of funding.

“I think part of what we’re seeing if you have a drop in your EAV you have to kind of raise your assessed value. We’re at a time where a lot of the funded programs are falling back on your local taxpayers. As state budgets have tightened a little bit more, it has been put back on local taxpayers,” Ingold said.

The local tax revenue is combined with any state and federal dollars to fund all of programs, personnel and buildings and maintenance, Ingold said, with a portion going to pay off any bonds paid by the district, as well as meeting Social Security and IMRF.

“Basically, it’s the operating cost of the district,” Ingold said.

To learn more about the tax cycle process, visit http://www.tazewell.com/Treasurer/images/understaning-tax-bill.pdf.