Cicero abates $8.2 million to hold down property taxes
Cicero Town President Larry Dominick proposed the abatement of $8.2 million in the Town’s levy to hold down property taxes for Cicero taxpayers.
The proposal was unanimously approved by the Town of Cicero Board of Trustees at its meeting this morning (Tuesday Feb. 23, 2016). Had the abatement not been approved, property taxes would have increased $8.2 million.
Since his election as Town President in 2005, Larry Dominick has made it his priority to hold the line on municipal property tax increases through sound financial management that has been recognized by national and regional financial associations.
President Dominick and the Town Board have abated taxes nearly every year during the past five years, holding the line on property taxes for residents.
President Dominick and the Town of Cicero Board have not issued any requests for borrowing, which creates property tax increases. Instead, President Dominick and the Town Board have worked to pay off the existing debt, which was borrowed by the prior administration prior to Dominick’s election in 2005.
Dominick and Chief Financial Officer Donald Schultz also renegotiated interest rates on the outstanding borrowing to lower the interest paid and to also further reduce the burden on taxpayers.
The impact of the Town’s actions have reduced the tax burden but do not reflect increases imposed by the many other government agencies such as Cook County and the Water Reclamation District, Cicero officials noted.
“Some residents have seen their property tax bills increase but that is mainly because of increases imposed by other taxing bodies including the county and government agencies such as the Water Reclamation District,” Cicero officials said.
“We cannot control the taxes imposed by others but President Dominick has made it his priority to increase and maintain the highest level of public services without increasing property taxes. That includes abating taxes and reducing interest rates paid on outstanding borrowings imposed on us by prior administrations.”
Dominick’s sound financial management has been recognized by many regional and national associations that monitor municipal finance.
Standard & Poors has given Cicero a strong Credit Rating (A-Plus (A+) ), and it has received national honors for its professional and transparent financial reporting procedures six years in a row including this year.
The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA), a professional association with over 17,500 members, whose purpose is to enhance and promote the professional management of governments for the public benefit by identifying and developing financial policies and best practices and promoting their use through education, training, facilitation of member networking, and leadership, has bestowed upon Cicero its three major awards in budgeting and financial reporting: The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award; The Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting; and, The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting.
Cicero Finance Director Donald Schultz said that the series of announcements have not only highlighted the strength of Cicero’s financial management on a national scale, but most has helped Cicero save millions in debt consolidation.
“The Town of Cicero has the distinction of being one of only a handful of municipalities in the State of Illinois to receive all three national awards of recognition from the Government Finance Officers Association,” Schultz noted.
“The rating from Standard & Poor’s determines what interest rate municipalities and governments must pay in order to borrow money,” Schultz explained at a recent board meeting.
Schultz pointed out that at the time Larry Dominick was elected the Town President of Cicero, prior administrations had strapped the town with major debt borrowing in excess of $148 million, which has been reduced to $94 million, or 36.5% during Dominick’s first two terms, with no additional long-term debt financings.
“It was a terrible debt to unload on Cicero taxpayers, but President Dominick immediately moved to address Cicero’s financial challenges and those efforts have been repeatedly recognized by the financial associations that matter,” Schultz said.
“By maintaining a strong credit rating, President Dominick has been able to renegotiate the loans on four separate occasions to significantly reduce interest rate charges saving taxpayers more than $5.4 million in interest debt payments.”
Of the 485 Illinois cities and counties that are current GFOA members, only six local governments, including the Town of Cicero, have received all three awards, representing only 1.4% of eligible local units of government.
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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