Urbana looking to keep property tax rate the same

Urbana looking to keep property tax rate the same

URBANA — As promised earlier this year, the city will do its best to keep next year's property tax rate the same as homeowners paid this year despite Carle Foundation properties being dropped from the tax rolls.

The trade-off was the quarter-cent sales tax increase the city council approved earlier this year, but Mayor Laurel Prussing said the move is to keep at least some of the pressure off property tax rates as other taxing bodies approve large increases.

City council members will meet as the committee of the whole at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St., to review the proposed tax plans.

In prior years, Urbana has tried to match Champaign's property tax rate. It is unlikely it will be able do that this year, but Prussing said at least the city tax rate will not go up from its current $1.355 per $100 of equalized assessed value.

"I don't know if we can equal Champaign's rate this year, but I think our goal is to not raise the rate," Prussing said.

The Champaign City Council is on course to finalize a $1.3152 rate at its next regular meeting.

City officials are expecting the move to not raise property taxes will actually cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars after $61 million worth of Carle Foundation property was removed from the tax rolls this year. That is nearly 11 percent of the city's taxable property.

City officials will know for sure how much they can expect to lose in April, when tax assessments are finalized.

The Carle property was declared tax-exempt following the implementation of a new state law, which makes the hospital eligible for tax-free status if its charity care exceeds the amount it owes in property taxes.

City officials think Presence Covenant Medical Center could make a similar move, which would put the city further in the hole.

Prussing expects the total property tax a homeowner pays this year will go up, but not because of the city, which is only responsible for roughly 15 percent of a taxpayer's bill.

It's "pretty much entirely Carle driven," Prussing said. "If you see what the park district did, they're going to have like a 13 percent increase in the rate."

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Sid Saltfork wrote on November 09, 2013 at 12:11 pm

How about prioritizing needs, not wants?  When is the next election for the Urbana residents?  Just don't lean on the county, state, or federal government for more grants.  Live within your means like many other communities are starting to do.  Fix the streets, provide safety, and assist the less fortunate.  Stop with the statues, big beautification projects, and trying to recreate a time gone past.  Don't cry that the surrounding part of the state should make up for Carle's lost money.  We have enough problems of our own without the statues, swimming pool, and downtown beautification projects.  We are trying to maintain our streets, water system, and other needs; not wants.

serf wrote on November 09, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I hear ya, Sid, but I think some of your complaints are a bit misplaced.  As much as I too sometimes question the mayor, she's got a point on this one.  Carle really screwed the city.  

As for statues and beautification projects, most of that stuff is paid for by grants.  Also, I think it's fair to say that beautifying up the place (at least a little bit) is part the role of a municipality.  Nobody wants to live somewhere that looks like a 1980's soviet block country.

And, even though you've been told this many times, the swimming pool belongs to the park district, not the city, and therefore you can't place that blame on the mayor.  I agree that they've made some boneheaded moves (ala Historic Lincoln hotel), but even that money came out of TIF districts funds.  I personally think TIF districts need to go the way of the dodo bird, but that's also a different subject.  

Furthermore, the City of Urbana has no say over the water system.  Talk to IL American water about that.  

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 09, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Well, serf; you are right on many things again.  However, the grants come from somewhere.  Someone pays for them, and someone gets them; but not everyone.  Urbana should be rated #1 in grants over every other local municipality.  It is money that could be used for more essential things.  Regarding the water systems, not all municipalities have good water pipes, or sewers.  It is not the water that I was referring to.  It is the infrastructure that delivers, and disposes of the water.

Yes, Carle messed over the city.  However, Mayor Prussing's previous comments were to the effect that the other communities should help Urbana make up the loss.  The swimming pool may belong to the Park District; but where is the Park District located?  State grants paid for some of the costs.  My point is that communities cannot keep depending, and hoping for state grants.  The same applies to the Federal grants.  Communities are becoming more self-dependent with tax increases instead of grants.  Really now, does Urbana look like "a 1980's soviet block country"?  That is a bit over the top.

My point is that municipalities need to prioritize their needs, not wants.  They cannot depend on others to pay for their wants when they do not maintain their essential services.  It is easy to see where Windsor Road ends in Urbana in the winter time, and where Champaign begins.  Urbana's roads, and streets are terrible.  Urbana has resisted over years any manufacturing businesses moving in.  I mention this because I lived in Urbana for close to 30 years.  I moved out when southeast Urbana slid into a crime area.  Ever notice that what shopping Urbana offers is on it's edges of town?  I don't blame the mayor as much as I blame the decision makers in Urbana.  The same old attitudes for years has made Urbana's financial plight.  Yes, Carle is to blame; but what is Urbana doing other than crying about it, and expecting others to bail them out?

serf wrote on November 09, 2013 at 4:11 pm

We can agree on quite a bit, it seems.  Some of Local Yocal's recent posts were spot on.  Everybody wants the services, but nobody wants to pay what it costs for those services.

Urbana has developed a well deserved reputation for not being business friendly.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 09, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I appreciate your responses more.  You get to the point without bringing everything, but the kitchen sink into it.  Your right about "Everybody wants..........."   The fable about the Little Red Hen (a really old story before most's time) sums it up.

The difference between the twin cities is obvious from the air.   For a stranger, it looks weird.  After you explain that it is two cities, the stranger still thinks it looks weird.  Only one street; but two different attitudes.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 09, 2013 at 9:11 pm
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Sid, who are these "decision makers" you reference?


If it's not the mayor, who is it? I don't think the professional staff wants to find itself in this continual bind.


Serf is right about TIF. Totally right. 


But Urbana's revenue problems are political, not endemic to the population, geography, etc. There's plenty of development in the community. It's just not in Urbana. 


That's not a coincidence.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 12, 2013 at 9:11 am

Rob, I lived in Urbana over 27 years.  Mayor Prussing was not the mayor during  that length of time.  Urbana had opportunities to attract manufacturing jobs during that time; but rejected them every time.  Urbana passed a ban of leaf burning during that time.  Champaign passed it years later.  The prevailing wind in the fall is from the west, and northwest.  Urbana residents still had the smoke of burning leafs in the air while they paid for their bagged leaves to be hauled away.  The "decision makers" are the elected city officials, and the more connected residents.

Urbana's revenue problems are political; but they are endemic to the population also.  What is the percentage of U of I faculty living in Urbana compared to Champaign?  Why are antiquated brick streets preferred over paved streets?  Why are buildings in the downtown area subject to the appearance of the past which turns off realty investors who have to recreate the architectural period?  Why spend a chunk of money on a "historic hotel"?  You know the Urbana lifestyle.  I chose to get out when the Urbana lifestyle became more important than controlling crime in southeast Urbana.  You stayed.  It was your choice, and my choice. 

You are right about "plenty of development"; but not in Urbana.  The elected officials are only doing what their constituency wants them to do.  In that regard, they are all "decision makers".

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 14, 2013 at 4:11 am
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That didn't answer my question, but in all other aspects you're on the right track.


Specifically, you're not on the right track RE: my intitial question. You're also wrong about brick streets. They last for EVER.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

Well, you are a hometown boy; and I am not.  You chose to stay; and I chose to move.  I moved to Urbana because of Yankee Ridge Elementary School for my children.  It offerred excellent services; and I remain grateful to it's staff especially Mrs. Hastings.

Your right about brick streets lasting forever.  I am sure that Urbana will keep, but not maintain the brick streets.

In regard to the "decision makers"; I think your response to the brick streets answers who are the "decision makers".

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 15, 2013 at 1:11 am
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I think Bill Gray does a great job with the Public Works deprtment. The problem, again,  is political.


They need money to pay the contractors. They need money for Portland Cement. But Urbana is losing revenue, not increasing it. Firing the accounting staff can't hide the problem.


Why do you think Prussing ran on that "96 Businesses" nonsense? It was purely Rovian: Attack the strengths (or in this case, proclaim the weakness).

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 15, 2013 at 4:11 am

I liked the "Rovian" term.  Carl Rove started his political operative career when he was in college, and has made a good living doing it for years.  Politics pays well.  Personally, I like a "Carvillian" mixture of tricks, and humor.

For a city of Urbana's size, there is an abundance of politicians.  No matter who wins, nothing changes though.