Urbana considers revising tax levy

By Rob Warren

The Urbana City Council considered decreasing the property tax levy rates at their meeting on Monday evening.

Ron Eldridge, city comptroller, presented new information regarding the property tax levy passed three weeks ago by the council.

“The county assessor has revised the original estimate and decreased it,” Eldridge said.

The county assessment went from a five-percent increase in city property taxes, on average for home owners, to a 4.75-percent increase. Eldridge stressed that the actual property tax rate has remained the same at $1.31 per $100 of the value of the property. The increase Urbana residents experience is largely the result of rising property values, he said.

Richard Gault, Urbana resident, raised an issue with the tax levy.

“You need to understand where people are coming from,” Gault said. “I would hope you folks would be visionary enough to go to (the) State government and tell them they need to change their outlook.”

Charlie Smyth, D-Ward 1, said the council actually receives a much smaller amount of property taxes than other boards. He said the school district is the “800-pound gorilla of property taxes” which receives more than half the money, while the city of Urbana receives 15 percent.

Mayor Laurel Prussing said she would suggest that the council look into changing the tax rate from $1.31 to $1.29, following Champaign, which recently passed a similar change. Prussing asked citizens to consider the alternative to rising property values.

“We would be far worse off if home values were falling,” Prussing said.

This week is also Fire Prevention Week and Tony Foster, division chief of prevention and education for the Urbana Fire Department, presented the department’s program, “Prevent Cooking Fires – Watch What You Heat.”

which focuses on averting kitchen fires.