Common Questions

How much of my property tax bill goes to the Village of Homewood?

The Village’s portion of local property tax bills is about 10%.  A resident with a $6,000 property tax bill pays $600 to the Village.  A $600 property tax bill is 0.003% of the $20 million dollars it takes to run the Village.  The second installment of your property tax bill shows the percentage of your taxes that go to each taxing district.  View a sample tax bill here.

How much does the Village receive in property taxes?

The Village’s 2017 property tax levy is $6,324,211. However, Homewood's largest revenue source to pay for municipal services is sales tax received from the state, followed by property taxes, then income tax received from the state.  A $600 property tax bill is 0.009% of the total property taxes received by the Village.

Would my property tax bill increase if the Village became home rule?

Property tax bills increase for many reasons outside of the Village’s control. On average, Homewood is responsible for roughly 10% of your property tax bill. This percentage has remained stable for several years. At the same time it placed the home rule referendum question on the March 20 ballot, the Village Board approved an ordinance keeping non-home rule tax levy restrictions in place. Because of this restraint, property taxes received by the Village should not increase more than they would have without home rule.  More information on these limitations can be viewed here.

Can the Village President and Trustees increase their salary if the Village became home rule?

Home rule would provide no additional authority to increase salaries of elected officials. All municipalities have this authority. Homewood Trustees receive $2,000 per year and the Village President receives $2,500 per year plus $1,200 per year for serving as the liquor commissioner. These salaries have not increased for at least 14 years.

Can the Village President and Trustees award themselves pensions and benefits with home rule?

Home rule would provide no additional authority to award pensions and health insurance benefits for elected officials. Because the Village President and Trustees are not full time Village employees they are not eligible to receive health insurance through the Village. State law, not home rule, allows elected officials to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) under limited circumstances. The pension amount is set by state law and is based upon a participant’s salary and years of service. Currently, only the Village President participates in IMRF. 

Can the Village board increase employee pensions with home rule?

Home rule would provide no additional authority to increase employee pension benefits. Employee pensions are set by state law and are based upon a participant’s salary and years of service.  The Village board has no authority to change the pension amount for employees or elected officials. As required by state law, the Homewood Police and Fire Pension Boards manage pension funds for police officers and firefighters.  These boards are independent from the Village Board. All other full time Village employees not covered by the police and fire pension funds are required by state law to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund was created in 1939 by the Illinois General Assembly and began operating in 1941.  State law requires all employee pensions to be funded by Village and employee contributions. Home rule would not change this.

What has the Village done to control its expenses to avoid raising property taxes?

  • Eliminated retiree health insurance for employees hired after the mid-1990’s
  • Moved to a health insurance pool in 2005 that reduced annual premium increases from over 20% to 7% on average
  • Reduced the starting salary by $10,000 for some positions
  • Doubled the number of years it takes for some employees to reach maximum salary
  • Lowered overtime costs by reducing the amount of sick leave employees take
  • Restructured fire department positions to reduce salary, benefit and overtime costs
  • Eliminated employee benefits for new hires
  • Eliminated some positions and left vacant positions unfilled
  • Offered early retirement to eligible employees to reduce salary and pension expenses
  • Whenever possible, used joint government purchasing contracts with other government agencies to receive volume discounts on vehicles, road salt, copiers, office supplies, sidewalk repairs and many other items

What is the Village’s track record for increasing property taxes?

Since the tax cap law took in effect in 1994 the Village has never had to increase the property tax levy beyond the 5% allowed by the state. The last time the Village went to a referendum to issue a bond was over 20 years ago.  Through cost saving measures and the use of revenues other than property taxes, the Village weathered the storm of the most recent recession and balanced its budget 15 of the last 17 years.  

Will property taxes increase beyond the tax cap under home rule?

The Village is in a solid financial position and has no need to increase the tax levy beyond what is allowed by the tax cap law. The Village is able to provide day-to-day municipal services and maintain public infrastructure, facilities and equipment without having to increase property taxes because steps were taken to reduce and control costs, diversify the Village’s revenue stream and build a stable fund balance. Strong sales at stores on Halsted and elsewhere are generating healthy sales tax revenue that helps negate the need to raise property taxes.

Can the Village increase sales tax by referendum without needing to be home rule?

State law allows non-home rule municipalities to increase the local sales tax by up to 1% if the increase is approved by the voters. However, the “non-home rule sales tax” cannot be shared with the schools, park district or the library. 

What prevents the current or future board from raising property taxes under home rule?

At the same time it initiated the home rule referendum, the Village Board adopted several ordinances limiting the village’s home rule authority and providing additional transparency and opportunities for residents to be heard. These ordinances include requirements that the Village:

  1. abide by the non-home rule property tax cap;
  2. abide by the non-home rule debt limit;
  3. conduct a public hearing to hear residents’ concerns on any proposed tax available only to home rule communities;
  4. publish a notice of the hearing at least seven days before the public hearing;
  5. explain the purpose and intended use of the tax to be established or increased;
  6. require that any new tax or tax increase available only to home rule communities be approved by two­-thirds of the Village Board instead of a simple majority.

More information on these limitations can be viewed here.

In addition, residents can prevent a board from raising property taxes by:

  1. voicing their opposition to an increase directly with the Village President and Trustees or at Village board meetings;
  2. voting against elected officials or candidates who favor increasing property taxes;
  3. voting for elected officials who oppose property tax increases;
  4. petitioning the Village Board to reduce the village’s property tax levy;
  5. initiating a referendum to repeal home rule.

How can residents ensure responsible use of home rule authority?

  • Participate in elections
  • 3 Trustees are elected every 2 years
  • The Village President is elected every 4 years
  • Voice your concerns by participating in Village Board meetings
    • All meeting agendas and proposed ordinances are posted on the Village website at least 48 before every meeting
    • At every board meeting, public comment is invited on all agenda items and on issues not on the current agenda
    • All proposed ordinances are published in advance, discussed in open session and voted upon in open session
  • Speak directly with the Village President and Trustees or contact them by email to ask questions and voice concerns
  • Initiate a referendum to repeal home rule