Will County real estate tax bills went online Wednesday and were mailed to 273,000 property owners on Thursday.

The first installment is due June 3 and the second installment is due Sept. 3. The bills are for 2012 taxes payable in 2013.

The county collected $1.62 billion from taxpayers last year and expects $1.68 billion this year, an increase of about $60 million, said Brian McDaniel, the chief investment officer for Will County Treasurer Steve Weber.

Taxing district rates range from $5 in unincorporated Reed Township to a whopping $18.55 for Crete Township residents who live in Park Forest. The total rate is the amount taxpayers pay per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, which is one-third their property value. The totals include rates from villages, schools, road funds, fire districts, libraries, park districts, etc.

Taxpayers who are curious about rates in other taxing districts can go to Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots’ website, thewillcountyclerk.com, and click on tax extensions.

The difference in rates often boils down to whether or not property is in a municipality and which school district it falls into. For instance, Troy Township residents who live in Channahon and are in the Troy School District pay a total rate of $9.84. In contrast, Troy Township residents who live in an unincorporated area and are in the Laraway School District pay a total rate of $6.81.

Assessments drop

If you want to see how well individual taxing bodies are holding the line, you can also view a five-year history of tax rates on the clerk’s website.

That list shows that Park Forest, for instance, has gone from a rate of $5.92 in 2011 to $8.22 in 2012. Park Forest Finance Director Mary Dankowski said the village’s tax levy went up only 2.7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

But a 26 percent drop in property value in the village caused by the Great Recession made the rate jump. Some property owners will pay more as a result, some won’t, she said. One former village employee brought Dankowski a bill that showed a total tax bite of $8,324 paid last year on a home valued at about $163,000 versus $8,133 due this year — even though the homeowner’s total tax rate jumped from $14.70 to $18.42.

“Some people can have increases, some people can have decreases,” Dankowski said. “It’s really kind of wild how it all gets allocated out.”

It all depends on how much an individual taxpayer’s property value dropped versus neighboring property and whether or not taxing districts have rate caps, Dankowski said.

Park Forest, which is 80 percent in Cook County and 20 percent in Will County, isn’t alone in losing value. Total residential assessments in Will County fell about $640 million from a peak of $15.8 billion in 2006 to $15.2 billion last year, according to Will County Supervisor of Assessments Rhonda Novak’s office.

Many ways to pay

Payments can be made my mail; online at www.willcountytaxbill.com; in person at the treasurer’s office, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet; by telephone, 815-723-4741; and at banks and credit unions throughout the county.

For the first time last year, the treasurer’s office started using a QR or Quick Response code on tax envelopes. Smart phone owners who have a QR code app can scan the envelope and their phones will take them straight to the bill payment website, McDaniel explained.

More people are taking advantage of the new technology. For instance, since May 1, when the bills were first posted online, 7 percent of people have paid bills via mobile phones. And the amount collected online rose 10 percent from 2011 to 2012, McDaniel said.