MORRIS – Grundy County property taxes are holding steady for the first time since the economic crisis began in 2008.
County Assessor Dave Henderson projects the county’s 2014 equalized assessed value to decline by about $5.5 million compared to the actual assessed values of 2013. The drop equates to a net decrease of about .003 percent between the two tax years.
Grundy faced a 2 to 3 percent EAV decrease in years past, so a .003 percent decline is welcome news, and, according to Henderson, a sign of a healthier housing market.
“The market is turning around. We’re seeing more activity and our values are holding, and in some cases, they’re increasing,” Henderson said Monday after announcing the figures to the Grundy County Finance Committee.
The county’s aggregate assessed value for 2013 was about $1.77 billion and is anticipated to hover at about $1.76 billion in 2014.
Erienna Township will receive a positive tax multiplier this tax year, making it the first time since 2009 a positive multiplier has been issued in Grundy County.
“Next year, we may see a couple more townships,” Henderson told the committee. “We’re coming out of this thing.”
Industrial property, farm land and farm buildings helped to keep the EAV afloat. With those three categories excluded, the county’s projected decrease in assessed value would rise from .003 to 2.26 percent.
However, Henderson said trends in the housing market indicate a better economic climate for homeowners.
“The number of days on the market for a residential property is declining,” Henderson said. “The percentage of selling price to list price is coming back up a little bit... so it is coming around.”
U.S. government fails to deliver on county bonds
The Internal Revenue Service promised to pay interest-bearing costs on a Grundy County bond issued in 2010, but the IRS has broken that promise because of government sequestration.
The finance committee heard Monday from John Vezzetti of Bernardi Securities Inc. regarding the bond.
According to Vezzetti, the U.S. government – in conjunction with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – committed to paying 45 percent of the county’s interest on certain bonds issued in 2010.
It has failed to make those pledged payments since spring 2013 when U.S. budget sequestration took affect.
The IRS has shorted Grundy County about $8,700 by failing to pay the full percentage on the past three interest payments. Vezzetti said the county should prepare for more funding shortfalls in the future.
“So much for a promise,” finance member Ken Iverson said.
The county was forced to dip into its debt service reserve fund to make the bond payments. The reserve fund is set at $66,000, which is enough money to cover the county if the IRS stops making payments completely.
“It was set aside in the event that the government did not make its payments in a timely manner to the county,” Vezzetti said. “It’s worked the way it should have.”
The county is obligated to replenish the fund to its original level. The finance committee agreed to take the $8,700 from contingency to transfer into the reserve fund.
Vezzetti warned that the county should be prepared to replenish the fund again in the future as the government will likely keep missing payments.
“Sequestration is not going away,” Vezzetti said.