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April 12, 2012

Our Opinion: Small tax increase a good idea

— The village board held its public hearing on the budget Monday night and no one showed up to voice opposition to the 2 percent tax increase approved late last month by the trustees.

Mayor Jeff Katz said that based on the turnout, he wasn’t sure that there was a negative reaction to the increase. “Nobody’s here,” he said.

We won’t take this space to express opposition to it, either. In fact, we believe it is a good move.

It is much better to raise taxes in small increments than it is to hit taxpayers with a large increase when it is no longer possible to make ends meet. Katz sees the more than decade-long vacation from tax increases that residents enjoyed as a large contributor to the position the village is in now with a multitude of expensive infrastructure projects all waiting to be tackled.

“For most of the ‘90s and into the early 2000s, the village had 11 straight years of zero percent. To me this was what killed the village finances. A manageable increase of 2 to 3 percent per year over that period would have given the village the annual infusion of funds that we are searching for still,” Katz said.

We can understand residents don’t want to see taxes go up, nobody does, but it would have been better for the village to raise the taxes a little each of those years and take care of some projects that were left undone.

Trustee Walter Franck expressed the opinion that the 2 percent increase will only generate about $35,000 — not enough to pay for the projects being discussed, but as a long-term economic strategy, it will pay dividends — we agree.

We also hope the board refrains from taking money from the water fund to use for short-term street repairs. Water rents are based on usage. There isn’t necessarily a correlation between water usage and property assessment. Tax-exempt properties would be correct to oppose such a move because it turns the water rents they pay into taxes.

If the water department is in good shape and has no capital projects waiting for funding, it would seem appropriate to reduce the rate to avoid accumulating too large a surplus.

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