Ceiling set for property taxes

By Rob Warren

The Urbana City Council passed a resolution on Monday determining the maximum increase in the amount of money the city could collect from property taxes.

The property tax levy recommendation was set 12 percent higher this year than in 2005.

However, City Comptroller Ron Eldridge reminded council members that the measure represented the maximum increase in the potential amount to be collected.

“We’re not passing a levy here tonight,” Eldridge said.

“This is a maximum amount, a technicality the state requires for property taxes, which will be decreased as the year progresses,” he added.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Eldridge also said that although the amount collected is rising, actual property taxes are not.

    Instead, homeowners’ property values are rising.

    “The more valuable your home, the more you pay,” Eldridge said.

    Mayor Laurel Prussing said that the ratio of money Urbana collects in relation to the state, which also collects property taxes, has actually fallen in the last ten years.

    She said that ten years ago, the city used to receive 17 percent of all property taxes but now only receives 15 percent.

    The council also passed a resolution to grant money for the construction of a solar home.

    The city voted to grant $20,000 to the construction of the home along with $5,000 in match funds.

    “This is the second solar home the city has sponsored. The first has a grand opening October 15,” said John Schneider, Urbana grants management division manager.

    The council voted against a motion to protest a county zoning change.

    The change would affect a tract of land near the intersection of Airport and Highcross Roads.

    The land, 24 acres currently zoned for agricultural use, would have its classification altered so a sub-development could be built on it.

    “I called residents near the site recently, and apparently the property has had nothing going on with it the last ten, twenty years,” said Councilman Dennis Roberts, D-Ward 5.

    “And after speaking with developers, the neighborhood feels positive about it,” he added.

    Although some council members expressed concern about continuing to pave over agricultural land, none voted in favor of the protest.

    “I continue to worry about building on farmland, but I think city growth is important,” said Councilman Brandon Bowersox, D-Ward 4.

    Had the city passed the protest, the county board would have been required to have a three-quarters majority to pass the zoning change, said Robert Myers, city planning manager.