Normal’s purchase of Rivian vehicles becomes talking point in failed effort to reduce town’s tax levy

Town of Normal Council Chamber
Town of Normal Council Chamber(Gray)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 12:06 AM CST
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NORMAL (25 News Now) - Normal’s proposed tax levy, the amount of property taxes the town plans to collect next year, is unchanged from the current year. However, two town council members tried unsuccessfully to lower the levy.

The council directed its staff Monday night to prepare a levy of nearly $13.4 million for final approval next month. Council members Stan Nord and Scott Preston backed amendments that would have reduced the levy by $200,000, and when that idea failed, they attempted to drop the levy by $100,000, which was also voted down.

Monday’s debate had Nord hearkening back to the previous meeting in which the council voted to buy two pricey electric vehicles at the Rivian plant in Normal. Preston voted with Nord on the eve of an election in which Republican Preston faces Democrat Sharon Chung in the race to become state representative in the new 91st Illinois House District.

Mayor Chris Koos declared Nord out of order when he argued Normal could withstand a levy reduction given that the council authorized staff to buy a Rivian pickup truck and sport utility vehicle that are more expensive that gas fueled cars.

“I think that’s a small ask because we did have enough money to buy luxury vehicles that will cost at least $100,000 more had we bought something that was moderately priced like what we usually buy,” said Nord.

Council member Kathleen Lorenz, voting with the majority, described the tax levy reduction idea as “scary policymaking.” She warned such action could negatively impact Normal’s bond rating.

“We would be so cavalier as to just pull out numbers from the sky on something so important as a property tax levy. This could have a detrimental effect on how our bond rating agencies look at us,” said Lorenz.

A flat tax levy and a projected 7.25% increase in taxable land values means property owners will pay about the same or a little less in taxes next year for Normal’s share of residents’ tax bill.

Normal’s town government accounts for only about 11% of residents’ tax bill. The largest amount goes to schools.