Hickory Hills approves small tax hike for homeowners

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Hickory Hills homeowners will see only an 0.7 percent increase in their property tax bill next year following the city council’s approval of an ordinance levying taxes for fiscal year May 1, 2016 ending April 30, 2017.

A recent report from the Cook County Clerk’s Office stated the 0.7 percent increase is the lowest increase since the Tax Cap Law began over 20 years ago.

City Attorney Vince Cainkar stated that traditionally homeowners would see a 4.9 percent increase in their real estate Taxes but the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), also known as the Tax Cap Law, limits the increase in revenue that districts may collect to the rate of inflation.

According to a June 13 press release from the Cook County Clerk’s office, a tax bill is based on the amount of money sought from taxing districts (the levy), the property’s assessed value, the state equalization factor and the applicable tax rate.

It stated further that in most cases, districts this year were limited to an increase equal to the 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 0.8 percent. Home Rule districts, debit obligations, other special purpose funds, and value derived from new property and terminated Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) Districts are exempt from this limitation.

In other action, the council voted unanimously to change the Hickory Hills Employee Health Insurance provider from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Aetna. The action came following a lengthy discussion in a specially called meeting of the Committee of the Whole, held just prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Mayor Mike Howley said the decision involved considerable input from the employees.

“We believe this change will provide a significant saving for our employees. We have asked them to document their experience with this new company during this first year so that we can evaluate its performance at the end of the year.”

On another matter, Police Chief Al Vodicka presided over a swearing-in of Glenn Tienstra to the position of sergeant.

Vodicka said Tienstra, who started with the department in 2001, worked as an undercover agent for 11 years.

“During those years, he worked on assignments with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau and the Immigration/Customs Enforcement. Working with the FBI and ATF, he helped coordinate one of the largest drug busts and confiscations in the county. With his background and experience, we are very happy to have him in this new role in our department.”

Tienstra replaces Sgt. Gary Kolnar, who retired after 26 years and served as Juvenile Specialist, teaching the DARE program for 15 years.

“Sgt. Kolnar has been a valuable asset to our department and dedicated to serving our community,” said Vodicka. “I believe I can safely say that he took the most pleasure out of serving as DARE officer through the years. We are going to miss him.”

Kolnar was present and received a standing ovation from the council and the audience.