As we enter December and the end of tax levy season, we remind you that state statute requires your levy ordinance to specify “in detail in the manner authorized for the annual appropriation ordinance or budget of the municipality, the purposes for which the appropriations, budgeting or such additional amounts deemed necessary have been made and the amount assignable for each purpose respectively.” 65 ILCS 5/8-3-1. This has been interpreted to mean that a levy must be sufficiently clear so a taxpayer can read it and understand its purpose and have some basis for determining its propriety and that if a levy is too vague, it will not be valid. The challenge to municipal government is to ensure your levy satisfies the detail requirement even if you do not identify every single pencil purchase in your levy. Courts have required at least some distinctions regarding spending items, for instance “for maintenance of water works system” would be sufficient but “water works system” alone would not.
Author: Ruth A. Schlossberg