In McLean County Fiscal Court’s Sept. 9 meeting, Judge-Executive Curtis Dame proposed to keep real property tax rates the same as last fiscal year, as well as motor vehicle and watercraft tax rates for the 2021 fiscal year.

The county’s current real property tax rate is 15.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value. As an example of this, residents owning a home valued at $100,000 would pay $155 per year in real property taxes.

Last year, the court opted to take a compensating rate, lowering rates .1 cent despite a $2.5 million deficit. This year, however, Dame said he does not believe the county can afford a compensating rate — which would lower the real property rate to 15.4 cents — due to the loss of the Poplar Grove coal mine, which will decrease the county’s real property valuation by around $28 million, according to Dame.

With the compensating rate, Dame said the county could lose an estimated $4,373. He proposed to keep the real property tax rates the same as last year at 15.5 cents.

“We did lose the coal mine … that inflated real property substantially and also tangible properties and we could’ve been able to withstand the compensating rate,” he said. “I do not honestly believe … we can afford to take the compensating rate knowing that we’ve lost all that inflated revenue from the coal mine.”

Dame said the county is in a good place financially right now after making significant spending cuts this past fiscal year. He said by taking the compensating rate and losing revenue now, the county would likely have to increase rates later down the road.

“It is a hard time for our county as well with COVID-19, and I think this is the responsible way to go forward,” Dame said.

No change was proposed to motor vehicle and watercraft property tax rates, which are currently 12.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Magistrates will vote on the proposed rates at the next fiscal court meeting Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton @mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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