Fewer taxing bodies means fewer Illinoisans leaving, Will County Board member says
Will County Board member Steve Balich is worried that township leaders opposing a property tax freeze are really angling for another tax increase.
“When I hear townships oppose freezing taxes, it tells me those elected officials from those townships want bigger government,” Balich told the Will County Gazette. “They don't care about the increased taxes driving people, especially seniors, out of their homes. Very sad when the form of government that is supposed to be closest to the people won't listen to their overtaxed residents.”
In its current, House-amended form, Senate Bill 851 would establish a two-year property tax freeze for Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties.
The measure would allow those counties to increase property taxes only with voter approval.
All other counties would be subject to referendums asking whether a property tax freeze should be imposed for 2018 and 2019 or that all governments within a county jurisdiction be subject to a property tax freeze over that period and to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for levy year 2020 and the foreseeable future.
“Each township has the same responsibilities by statute, but each functions differently and has a focus on different services,” Balich said. “We should eliminate and consolidate whenever money can be saved. Any time we can cost-effectively eliminate any taxing body, it is a good idea.”
Bryan Smith, the executive director of the Township Officials of Illinois, sent an alert to township officials letting them know that a House Revenue Committee hearing is scheduled for this week and that the bill could go before the full House and Senate by the end of the week.
“Illinois needs to freeze all their crushing taxes, but the property tax is the worst of them all,” Balich said. “If you pay $6,000 a year, you are basically paying the government rent of $500 per month to own your home. If you can't pay, you lose your home to a tax sale. Your home is therefore not yours. Those on fixed incomes understand this very well.”
Balich, from Homer Glen, said Illinoisans need to be concerned before rising property taxes price them out of the dream of home ownership.
“Ask yourself the simple question: How high can my taxes go before I can't pay anymore?” he said. “The answer in Illinois is seen in the huge exodus from Illinois to other states. Voters are beginning to understand there is a direct correlation between falling home values and increased taxes.”
And now, Balich said voters need to hold lawmakers accountable.
“People need to end the cycle by voting anyone who votes to raise property taxes out of office,” he said. “The higher the taxes, the less spending power people have, since their disposable income is less. It is very clear: Local economies are hurt.”