How to Solve the Sun City Property Tax Inequities

As the sponsor of the overlapping tax district bill in 1973, I think there may be a way to tweak it to make sure what happened in Sun City won’t happen again.

A weighted average is now used.

That works, except on the Cook County overlapping districts.

And with the exception of the Huntley situation this year.

[I figured out how to fix the Cook County inequity, but no one has the will to take it on and it’s not your concern.

[To fix the overlapping tax district problem between Cook County and the collar counties, each class of property has to be equalized. Now, a raw weighed average is used. That results in homeowners in Cook County still being assessed lower than homeowners in the collar county portions of overlapping schools, municipalities, etc. No legislator has the courage to fix this problem.]

A Sun City sign on the Kane County side of the line.

Pete Gonigan of the First Electric Newspaper has nailed what caused the inequity in real estate taxation in Sun City.

Grafton Township Assessor Bill Ottley used a one-year average comparing assessments to sales prices (called a “sales ratio study”), while Rutland Township Assessor Janet Siers used the three-year average mandated by state law.

[The three-year average was an ill-conceived concession I made back in the 1970’s at the behest of the Illinois Agriculture Association. Farmland then was assessed according to fair market value, the same way homes and businesses are. But, developers were buying property for Galena Territory where Eagle Ridge Resort is located in Jo Davies County. The price per acre was apparently well above the price being paid for farm land to be used for farming. The Farm Bureau argued that a three-year average should be used so such price spikes would not drive up the assessment of all farmland in such situations.

[I was on the committee figuring out how to draft the law to define assessments. My preference was a one-year average, but the three-year average idea carried the day. Ironically, that was not good enough for the Farm Bureau. In short order, a law was passed which mandating assessing farmland based on productivity. That resulted in homeowners now paying much higher taxes on their houses than farmers pay on their land, which is worth substantially more.]

In 1973, I sponsored of the original bill to implement the overlapping tax district equalization authority of the 1970 State Constitution in 1973.

That section of the Revenue article was inserted by Barrington Con-Con Delegate Jeanette Mullin. She, with Jeff Ladd, served a two-township deep district above the southern boundary of McHenry and Lake County running from Lake Michigan to the western edge of Grafton and Dorr Townships.

Mullin had a special interest in the problem because she lived west of the Barrington High School just north of the Cook-Lake County. That meant she and her Cuba Township neighbors paid far higher tax bills tn homeowners living in Barrington Township.

That they still do testifies to the inadequacy of my 1973 legislation.

The Sun City inequities can be rectified by putting into law a definition of the years to be used in the sales ratio study.

Obviously real estate taxes will not be fairly apportioned if one county uses a 3-year average and another a 1-year average.

Although Governor Pat Quinn has not yet signed the reapportionment bill crafted by Illinois Democratic Party leaders, it appears that both the Kane and McHenry County parts of Sun City will be in the same state representative and senate districts.

Mike Tryon, who has announced his candidacy in the state rep. district and faces no opposition, and whoever is elected state senator (no announced candidate yet) will not be able to please both parts of Sun City.

If Kane County homeowners in Sun City see their taxes go down, the difference will be picked up by those in McHenry County.

About all the legislators will be able to say is they are trying to make things fair.


How to Solve the Sun City Property Tax Inequities — 3 Comments

  1. With a 1 yr average, I assume the McHenry County portion has lower accessed values right now. How much different is the levy though? Kane County is not known for it’s thrifty ways…

    In my opinion the levy is more important than the assessment. Lower the levy, and our bills go down. Raise the levy and bills go up, regardless of values.

  2. There are maximum tax rates set by statute.

    However, since the Tax Cap was instituted in the early 1990’s, property values have almost always been higher than the increase in the cost of living. In order to limit the tax take, which is set by the county clerk’s tax extension, that meant the tax rate had to go down.

    Some will remember the annual tooting of horns by local municipalities and school districts about how they had lowered their tax rate. It meant nothing, but most young reporters have only a vague understanding of how the property tax works.

    Now, with the CPI increasing more than property values, which, as all know, have been decreasing, county clerks have to increase the tax rates in order to give tax districts who over levy the maximum allowed under the Tax Cap.

    When a tax district reaches a tax rate that is the maximum allowed by law, that tax district will not be able to get an increase in tax take equal to the increase in the CPI.

    At that point the tax district in question will have to economize as family units do when their income does not increase as much as the rate of inflation.

    Then, tax district boards will have to get voter approval to get more money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *