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Council hears opposition to proposed tax hike

by CJ Carnacchio

May 16, 2012

Oxford Village Manager Joe Young's proposal that the municipality increase its property tax rate by a half-mill for the 2012-13 fiscal year did not go over well at last week's council meeting.

"I think that the village needs to live within its means," said resident Sue Bossardet, a former village president and council member, who suggested the municipality "go back to the drawing board and reevaluate" its submitted budgets.

Bossardet noted that as a private citizen, whenever her expenses increase or her income decreases, she can't simply require others to give her more money to pay her bills.

"I don't have that option," she said.

Young proposed increasing the village's general tax rate from 10.62 mills to 11.12 mills for the July tax bill, which would amount to $26.82 for the average residential property, according to the manager's calculations.

Council is considering approval of a budget totalling $6.9 million, of which $1.938 million would comprise the municipality's general fund. The village will hold another public hearing on the proposed budget at its 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 meeting.

On May 15, Young told this reporter that village President Tom Benner directed him to nix the increase and simply present council with the current tax rate at next week's meeting.

Young's proposed half-mill increase would have generated an additional $54,417 for the village, of which $8,248 would be captured by the Downtown Development Authority, while the remaining $46,170 would go toward the municipality's general fund.

Over the last three years, the village tax rate has fluctuated. In 2009, council lowered it from 11.12 mills to 10.12 mills. In 2010, council raised the rate to 10.62 mills and kept it there for the 2011 tax collection as well.

In an April 26 memo to council, Young explained the proposed half-mill tax hike represents a 4.7 percent increase, which offsets the 4.7 percent decrease in the village's total taxable value for 2011.

"The result is that the total tax revenue would remain at $1.029 million for 2012-13 as it was for the current (fiscal) year," he wrote.

Councilman Dave Bailey made it clear he's not voting for any millage increase because he doesn't want it to be perceived as replacing any missing or potentially embezzled village funds (see related story above).

An internal investigation conducted last year revealed the village was missing approximately $20,000 in property tax money from the 2010 collection. The money remains unaccounted for. No one has been charged with any crimes related to the missing funds.

"I don't want to be a part of restoring (potentially) embezzled money into the (village) coffers and if I vote to increase the millage, that's exactly what I'll be doing I'll be replacing the missing funds," he said. "I don't

want to do that."

"I will not vote for an increase in the millage and I will not vote for a decrease in the millage because it looks too much like I'm making some kind of adjustment on the basis of the (potential) embezzlement," Bailey continued. "I'm now a hard-liner for keeping the millage the same. I'm willing to make that motion."

Bossardet also mentioned the missing village funds as another reason for her opposition to a tax increase. "I'm not in favor of raising taxes because we can't manage it," she said. "I should not have to cover what couldn't be managed in the village offices."