Thursday, December 4, 2008

Village of Orland Park plans whopping 17 percent property tax levy hike

The front page of the Orland Park Prairie, my favorite newspaper, reports what can only be called a real Christmas Miracle:

"Retail Vacancies filling up in Orland."

According to the story, while the rest of the nation is seeing retail businesses closing and abandoned space increasing, "that's not completely the case in Orland Park."

Now, I started laughing because I thought, wow that is one of the funniest jokes I have heard in a long time.

Imagine, two businesses plan to expand and an estimated 15 have closed in the past year. In fact, when you drive around Orland Park, all you see are empty storefronts. In practically every mall.

According to Orland Park Village Clerk David P. Maher (father of Patrick Maher who jacked up ambulance fees mainly for senior citizens at the Orland Park Fire Protection District, but not related to Gerald F. Maher who is running for Orland Park Mayor on a reform hold-the-line on taxes platform), property taxes in Orland Park are going to increase -- significantly.

I'll repeat that. They are going to increase, significantly.

Oh, but that's not even the biggest story of the year. The biggest story is that while the members of the Village Board have been spinning yarns about how they "saved" the property tax rebate, it turns out that the rebate is actually far less than they even admitted it would be.

Now, again, I have to rely on Clerk Maher's numbers. Maher states in the apparent paid advertisement in the paper that last year's property tax rebate was $15,303,532, and that this year's property taxes to be levied for 2008 are $17,905,671. (The Ad is framed in a thick black border, much like a funeral notice.)

That is a $2.6 million increase in property taxes, for starters.

But what is really significant? Well, Mayor Dan "Happy talk" McLaughlin announced that because of the village's financial problems, they would be short $4.8 million. To compensate for the shortfall in spending -- which means the village is spending more than it receives in revenues (which are all taxes) -- they would cut back on many things, including reducing the annual Property Tax Rebate.

The local newspapers reported that village officials are sighing relief that the "Property Tax Rebate" is "intact" -- remember that cute little word? Intact!


Do the math folks.

They "capped" the rebate at $4.5 million this year. In fact, as I was writing this, I received a automated telephone call from the village reminding me that I had to get my tax rebate forms in by Dec. 13. They even have a hotline (708-403-6116) if I had any questions. And I do.

So, if the property tax rebate is being capped at $4.5 million, and the property taxes actually being levied for 2008 are $17,905,671 ... duuuh! ... that means the "Property Tax Rebate" is far from being "intact."

It means that the village is only rebating exactly 25.1 percent of the village property taxes.

They are KEEPING 74.9 percent of the property tax that they used to rebate every year.

Some village observers estimated that you would get about 60 percent of your property tax rebated. But, as you can see, that's not true. In fact, if two thirds of the homeowners failed to file their rebate forms in time before the village deadline, you stll wouldn't get that much in a rebate.
The $4.5 million "cap" will be divided based upon how many homeowners file for rebates. Let's assume that will be the same as last year? Which means that you WILL get only 25 percent of what you paid.

Nevermind the other OBVIOUS story, that the village is increasing property taxes on residents by a whopping $2,602,139. That represents an increase in your property taxes of 17 percent.

The Village of Orland Park is going to raise our property taxes 17 percent.

The village plans a special meeting on Dec. 15 at 7 pm to discuss all this.

-- Ray Hanania

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