Fox Lake Adopts 2019 Budget

(Fox Lake) Property owners in Fox Lake will see an increase in their 2019 tax rate though it will not be as big as first planned. The Common Council last Wednesday night adopted the $1.7-million-dollar city budget.

Initially, the tax levy was $1-million-28-thousand dollars ($1,028,000). That would have resulted in a mill rate of $13.14-per one thousand dollars of assessed value, an increase of $3.61. For the owner of a $150-thousand-dollar home, that would have resulted in an increase of $542 in the city portion of their tax bill. In an effort to reduce the tax impact, City Administrator Dean Perlick suggested paying for the proposed $115-thousand dollars in capital projects with money from their reserve fund instead of the levy. That change, coupled with budgetary cuts, are resulting in a tax levy of $830-thousand dollars.

The mill rate adopted Wednesday night of $10.61-per-thousand is $1.08 higher than the tax rate adopted last year. For the owner of a $150-thousand-dollar home, that will result in an increase of $161 on the tax bill they’ll see in December.

In recent years, the reserve fund was as high as $700-thousand dollars but three years of lean budgets following the closure of a Tax Increment Finance District reduced the account to $240-thousand. If all the capital projects approved with the 2019 budget are realized, the rainy-day fund would be stand at $125-thousand dollars. Bednarek notes that there is currently $240-thousand dollars from the reserve fund on loan to the city’s Tax Increment Finance Districts. Most of that money is expected to be recouped and returned to the rainy day fund with interest in less than five years.

Mayor Tom Bednarek says the city will be in much better shape with the 2020 budget as revenues from a new TIF are realized.

The 2019 budget requests that were scaled back include a reduction of over $6600 from the swimming pool budget. Another $10-thousand dollars in partial funding for a squad car was cut in half, though city officials are looking at leasing instead of buying. Sealcoating projects were reduced while funding has been decreased or eliminated for the Bunny Berigan Jazz Jubilee, the Historical Society and Harriet O’Connell Room, and the food pantry, among others.

Expenditures that remain in the proposed capital projects plan include $46-thousand for a generator and $15-thousand for a truck for the utility, $15-thousand dollars for a DPW mower and around $10,000 for computers and election equipment for the city clerk, treasurer and courtroom.