Rockford owners are seeing the bottom property tax price in a decade

ROCKFORD – Another tax deadline is imminent.

Winnebago County property owners have until Friday to pay the first installment of their property tax bills.

While about 72% of Winnebago County’s tax bills are up year-over-year, the increase is minimal, according to Tom Hodges, Winnebago County’s appraisal inspector.

“The average price change was 1.16%,” said Hodges. “So half of all tax bills did not increase by 1.16% and the other half by more. The average increase was $ 40. “

A variety of factors contribute to how much your tax bill will go up or down in any given year. The most important is how much the value of your property fluctuates. Another component, however, is how much tax authorities decide to collect.

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That year, six of the 11 government agencies that appear on most Rockford taxpayers’ bills either kept their levy or increased it by less than 2%. Each of the other five agencies increased their levy between 2% and 3%.

This, combined with new growth and economic development that increased the tax base, resulted in a property tax rate lower than it has been in a decade.

This year, taxpayers in tax code 001 – the tax code most Rockford property owners are in – pay $ 12.86 for every $ 100 of a property’s taxable value. The last time the rate was below $ 13 was in 2012 when it was at $ 12.90. This is its lowest reading since 2011 when it was $ 12.18.

“It’s a win, and I would say the bigger win is that these tax authorities like Rockford City, RPS 205, Winnebago County, Rockford Township, Park District and Rock Valley College have been collecting flat rates for years,” said Rockford Area Realtors CEO said Conor Brown. “That was incredibly important during the recession as property values ​​fell and our rates rose. Since we’ve made the turnaround in the last four years or so and values ​​have risen dramatically, we are now seeing the effects of the tax rate dropping. “

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State law allows government agencies to increase property tax each year by the rate of inflation plus the value of newly developed properties.

Rockford Public Schools – which accounts for more than half of a city property owner’s tax bill – chose not to include the inflation rate in their 2020 levy, but to include the value of new development.

“The board of directors has been committed to keeping levies flat for the past eight or nine years, so that’s what we did,” said Michelle Jahr, the district’s chief financial officer. “Although we have included the new property in our levy, we use this (income) for our facilities.”

The district’s tax rate, which in 2015 was nearly $ 8 for $ 100 of the taxable value of a property, fell to $ 6.58 in 2020.

The School District and the City of Rockford have each decreased or kept their taxes the same for eight of the past 10 years.

“We have kept our tax apartment for eight years. In two of the last four years we have lowered our levy, ”Mayor Tom McNamara said in a statement. “This work by our council, coupled with infrastructure investments, efforts to reduce rot and new initiatives like Rockford Promise, have increased our property value and thus lowered our tax rate. In four years our property tax rate has decreased by 16% from 3.31 to 2.79. It is the lowest value in a decade. ”

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The eleven government agencies that make up the majority of Rockford’s taxpayer bills combined collected $ 324,430,295 in property tax in 2020 on bills due that year.

That is 1.2% more than in 2019.

The value of all real estate in Winnebago County rose 5.3% to $ 5.09 billion in the 2020 tax year. The figure is about 8% below the county’s high of $ 5.5 billion, which was reached in 2009, before the effects of the Great Recession became visible in the appraisers’ calculations.

According to Hodges, Winnebago County’s property values ​​are set to increase from 5.4% to 5.8% in 2021.

“If you look at sales, and especially residential sales, over the past three years, I can imagine that we will surpass the 2009 peak in 2022,” he said. “We brought back a lot of value from the low point in 2015. This is good for district taxation and good for taxpayers. “

Rising property values ​​are a sign of a healthy community, Brown said.

“The fact that people are willing to make significant investments in their homes and really take root in the Rockford area says something,” he said. “We’re still a very affordable market. You can get a lot of bang for your buck. We have seen this with a lot of suburban buyers who come here. You can have a large garden for your children or your dogs. Such things really speak for our strengths out here. “

Ken DeCoster: [email protected]; @DeCosterKen