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Harvard votes to raise property tax levy

HARVARD – The City Council voted to raise Harvard’s tax levy for 2013, amounting to $18 to $19 a year more in property taxes for an average homeowner, City Administrator David Nelson said.

The council voted, 6-2, in favor of the increase.

Mayor Jay Nolan said the city needs extra revenue because of rising costs – the same financial stresses that homeowners face.

“Right now, we’re trying to stay afloat,” Nolan said. “We’re just trying to stay above water.”

Harvard approved a $9.23 million budget in April.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Alderman Phil Ulmer said he voted no on the increase despite the city’s fiscal pinch.

He said Harvard’s lack of a significant surplus makes it tougher to keep the tax levy steady, pointing out that McHenry County – which plans not to increase its levy – has the luxury of a surplus.

“We’re doing better financially than we were a year ago,” Ulmer said. “But you wonder if everybody out in the community, if our citizens, are doing better.”

Alderman Mike Clarke pointed to rising property taxes and falling home values as a reason for voting against the tax levy increase.

“We’ve cut at least seven full-time positions over the last five years. We’ve done a lot to kind of live within our means and balance our budget,” Clarke said. “But I think we need to be more vigilant about it, and just continue to look for ways to balance the budget, cut costs and give it back to the taxpayers.”

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