Despite having $1.7 million in the bank, the Wheatland Township Board has approved a 2012 tax levy that collects nearly $170,000 more than the township needs to operate.
The levy, which must be approved by the end of this month, is the amount of money the township asks the DuPage County treasurer to collect in property taxes on its behalf. The $978,000 amount was reduced by 5 percent over last year’s $1.05 million levy, Trustee Joe Hudetz said.
But the board could have gone further in terms of reducing the amount given how much money is being held in reserve, said Hudetz, who pushed for a 15 percent to 20 percent reduction. The board has been collecting more tax money than needed to operate in recent years in order to accumulate the money needed to build a new administrative center for the township, which serves Plainfield and Naperville residents.
However, those earlier this year. Following a series of public meetings over the spring and summer, residents voted to kill the new construction project and rejected suggestions that an existing building be purchased or new space leased.
Instead, they directed the board to sell the land on which the new building was to be erected and use that money to remodel the existing township hall on 91st Street.
“My objection, and that of Karl (Trustee (Karantonis), is they’re over-collecting beyond the expenses they actually have,” Hudetz said. “I’d love to see them start chipping away (at the $1.7 million being held in reserve) than to take more from the taxpayers.”
Township Supervisor Todd Morse and Trustees Frank King and Doug Haddad voted in favor of the $978,000 levy. Karantonis and Hudetz voted against it.
Hudetz said he believed the levy should be closer to the $810,000 expected to be spent for operations in the 2012-13 fiscal year. (The township, like many other government units, does not operate on a calendar year and won't approve a new budget until next year.)
“We should not be holding the taxpayers’ money,” Karantonis said at the Thursday meeting at which the levy was approved. “It’s clear to me that the taxpayers do not want the new building built.”
But Morse, in defending the levy, said the additional money may be needed for operating costs and to remodel the township building given that it’s not certain how much the land will net or how long it will take to sell. Now that the city of Naperville has opted not to purchase the property back from the township, the next step is to seek appraisals and it put on the market.
“Cutting the levy short, cutting our funds short, that’s not a wise move,” Morse said.
Several residents who opposed the new building and fought to ensure it didn’t get built objected to the tax levy amount during the public comment portion of the Thursday meeting. One questioned whether the board planned to follow the directives given to them by the residents.
“I want to know, are you guys going to honor the resolution passed on the evening of Aug. 9?” resident Deb Holscher asked.