If business clusters affect perception; Rockford’s other issues are reality

Some city officials now feel that when too many businesses, such as check-cashing stores, tobacco stores, and pawn shops are clustered in an area of a given size, it may create an unhealthy business environment leaving the perception that the city has a poor economy. As the city ponders ways to reduce the “perception” of these cluster businesses, real issues come to mind that affects the city’s economy – such as double digit unemployment, the fifth highest or higher property tax in the nation, or the ninth highest...

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Public entities have never met a tax they didn’t like!

Dennis G. Eksten, former board president, North Suburban Library District in a recent “Your Views” letter lamented the Rockford Register Star editorial board’s position advocating for passage of SB2073 Tax Cap law, which would keep revenues available to local taxing districts at their current level in a declining home market. The board president equated that to a reduction in the revenue available to the library, because even a decrease in growth is a “reduction” to a public entity advocate. Mr. Eksten said that...

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Should Rockford approve another TIF district?

Rockford City Council is discussing another tax increment finance district, the 30th, this one along East State Street between Alpine and Mulford. TIF districts are designed to encourage private investment in areas of a community that have proven to be underdeveloped or blighted and would not receive such investment “but for” TIF assistance. TIF expenditure are usually debt financed in anticipation of future tax revenues, over a period of 23 years, to pay off the bond or initial loan. The process works for a truly blighted area....

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City of Rockford’s budget requires vigilance

The city of Rockford’s budget is moving in the right direction, in that the city’s reserves increased by $1.4M in 2011. The city must remain vigilant, however, because of the means that are being used to achieve “balanced” budgets or surpluses. One positive means is in reaching an early budget resolution. Adjusting spending levels at the beginning of the fiscal year has helped prevent overspending of the budget in the first quarter the last two years. On October 3, 2011, however, the city voted 9-0 to borrow $20.7M...

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Tax Caps do not require an increase in property taxes

With tax caps, a municipality may increase the tax rate to recover the current taxes paid by property owners, plus the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less. Tax Caps allow but do not require a taxing body to levy the full amount, especially in a declining property value market. Winnebago County’s property taxes will remain the same in 2012. The property tax levied this year for the county was $38,361,414. For 2012, the amount requested is $38,360,842 – $572 less than this year. The county tax rate will increase by a few cents in...

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