URBANA — Rantoul rates will drop 38 or 39 cents per $100, but remain the highest in the county, in the range of $11 per $100 of assessed value.
The lowest overall rates are in Pesotum and Sidney, in the range of $6 per $100.
Rantoul isn’t the only place where property tax rates have fallen in Champaign County. They’ve dropped in every community but Allerton, thanks in part to tax caps and the sale of the county’s former nursing home.
The county clerk’s office wrapped up its work on 2018 taxes this week. Property-tax bills are still tentatively set to be mailed Tuesday, according to county Treasurer Laurel Prussing.
“That’s still our tentative date, but we’ll see if we can get them done earlier,” she said.
Comparing 2017 and 2018, the overall tax rates — which are sums of all the taxing districts’ rates in various areas — are running about a dime lower per $100 of assessed value in some communities to more than 40 cents lower per $100 in others.
Urbana property owners will be paying a rate of approximately 36 cents less per $100, and in most areas of Champaign, the overall rate drop will be about 4 cents per $100.
Most of the tax-rate drop for Urbana residents is coming from a reduction in the school district’s tax rate of nearly 30 cents per $100, a result of the payoff of 2002 bonds, according to Carol Baker, the district’s chief financial officer.
The fact that OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center is being taxed for 2018 is also a contributing factor in Urbana’s taxing districts — though the taxable status of the hospital is currently in dispute, and Urbana taxing districts could wind up having to refund OSF’s tax payment later, depending on the outcome.
Contributing to rate reductions countywide was the county using proceeds from the recent sale of the nursing home to pay off nursing home bonds, according to Andy Rhodes, the county’s IT director who helped the county clerk’s office with this year’s tax work.
That shaved more than 3 cents per $100 from the county tax rate, reducing taxes on an owner-occupied $150,000 home by $14.25, he said.
Tax caps also contributed to rate reductions, based on property values rising faster than the rate of inflation. Illinois’ Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, adopted in Champaign County by referendum, limits taxing districts to increases based on the rate of inflation.
Taxing districts in Champaign County that overlap counties without tax caps aren’t subject to those restrictions. For instance, Parkland College, which receives taxes from 11 counties in addition to Champaign, isn’t subject to tax caps, Rhodes said.
Reductions in tax rates don’t necessarily add up to lower tax bills for each property owner, because the assessed value of each property and whether that has changed is also part of the equation.
Meanwhile, County Clerk Aaron Ammons is planning to conduct a series of town hall meetings to talk about the property-tax cycle.
“It’s clear there needs to be more education around how the tax cycle works within the county and the different roles the county clerk, the assessor and the treasurer play,” he said. “We are working with a new software program as well, so the more communication we have with the public and other stakeholders about the process, the better everyone’s understanding will be.”
This year’s property-tax cycle has been delayed by about a month. In addition to new software — plus new staff in the clerk’s office — there was also a delay in the Illinois Department of Revenue’s release of a final multiplier for Champaign County.
Town hall meetings are tentatively planned for Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, St. Joseph, Rantoul and Tolono. More information about these meetings will be announced soon, Chief Deputy Clerk Angela Patton said.