Flawed tax notices imperil township projects
Peabody Township can’t increase its property tax levy an intended 6.296 because required notices of the increase were not sent to all taxpayers in time.
County clerk Tina Spencer said the problem was caused by a glitch in software used by the clerk’s office.
The township’s budget hearing was Monday. Because property owners who live inside the city of Peabody, which in Peabody’s case is part of the township, did not get proper notices in time, the township had to stick to last year’s 5.481 levy rate.
Otherwise, property owners’ taxes would have increased 9.846%.
The notices, some with the increase included and others not, were sent out Aug. 11.
“They’ll be capped at the revenue neutral rate,” Spencer said. “That’s the highest level they’ll be able to tax.”
Spencer said she didn’t know what effect the less-than-planned tax rate would have on planned library improvements.
“That’s unfortunate, but there’s not anything I can do about it,” she said. “The legislature didn’t allow any method of correcting it.”
A state-mandated mailer, imposed this year, required county clerks to notify property owners if tax levies would increase beyond the previous year.
Notices had to be sent 10 days before taxing units adopt budgets.
Librarian Rodger Charles said Peabody township wanted to increase taxes by half a mill because it wanted to build up its reserve.
The township funds major library improvements from its general fund.
Because taxes can’t be increased, any library improvements will be made through library funds and fundraising.
“For now, our final estimate is $100,000 for our planned projects,” Charles said. “If we pay that out of our money, we will be cash poor. We’re going to have to do more fundraising just to maintain the progress levels we were wanting.”
Charles said he felt horrible for the township.
Spencer said the same glitch occurred on notices sent out for Catlin and Durham Park townships, but new notices still could be sent out before the deadline of 10 days before the budget hearings, set for Sept. 1 and 30.