Northwest Herald Gets It on Tax Levies

The folks telling reporters what to look for when tax districts pass their tax levies for next year know what the target is.

As readers of McHenry County Blog should know by now, any school or other tax district that increases its levy (the amount of money it would like us to pay in this coming year’s tax bill) above what was collected last year is pretty much automatically going to force you and me to pay more money in our next real estate tax bill than we paid this year.

The reason is that while real estate inflation was increasing more that the Cost of Living over the life of the Property Tax Cap (the insiders call it PTELL), the tax cap forced tax rates set by state statute below their maximums.

The tax cap allows tax districts to collect what they got the previous year, plus whatever the CPI has increased.

It’s last year’s “extension” (pretty much what was collected last year), plus the CPI. That’s the maximum that can be extracted from our checkbooks.

The increase in the CPI means the limit for next year is what was collected last year, plus 1.5%.

So asking for at least 1.5% more than last year allows tax districts to get the maximum amount possible until they bump up against the statutory tax rate maximums.

There is, however, unfortunately a parenthesis.

Tax districts are allowed to capture all of the assessment from new construction.

Most would consider that OK.

So, most tax districts decide to “balloon” levy (up 1.5% this year, plus some more) to make darn certain they get every dime from us current property owners, plus the new construction to which they are allowed to get under the Tax Cap.

What their districts do for mankind, the logic goes, is more important that your deciding how to spend that “little bit” of money.

The “however” almost always results in increasing the tax bills for current property owners.

In the NWH’s story on the Fox River Grove Fire Protection District, reporter Katie Anderson goes right to the heart of the matter:

“Representatives of the Fox River Grove Fire Protection District voted recently on a 2011 tax levy that is 0.07 percent higher than last year’s extension.

“Under the tax cap law, the district could have levied up to 1.5 percent – the rate of inflation over last year.”


Not to mention kudos to Mike Kunz and his fellow FPD Trustees for not taxing to the max.

Besides focusing on what really matters in taxes this time of year, the NW Herald has placed the subject first on its questionnaire to McHenry County Board candidates.

The McHenry County Board minus Chairman Ken Koehler.

Here’s the question:

“The County Board recently voted to increase its tax levy, thereby raising property taxes for county residents.

“Do/did you support that decision? Explain.”

If you would like to refresh your memory as to the Board members who voted to tax you as much as the law allows, you might want to read this article:

Who Voted to Raise Your County Taxes?


Northwest Herald Gets It on Tax Levies — 3 Comments

  1. Over in Lake County, there is only one taxing entity that I can find that is bucking the trend and lowering its levy.

    Avon Township (Round Lakes and Grayslake) reduced their levy by 13.8% for 2012 and 20.8% in the least three years.

    When you look at their rationale, they say they like most taxing entities, they are sitting on significant reserves and in this challenging times, it is time to operate off of reserves and save tax-payers a few dollars.

    They also cite being debt-free, and are consistently looking at their business practices to ensure residents get the best bang for their buck.

  2. Why are people so anti-public sector? Because they try to bleed every drop of blood out of us that they can! Who cares about serving the public; it’s all about money, money, money and how we can get every one of your shiny dimes out of your pocket and into ours!!

    I have the County Taxes hyperlink already bookmarked and I will not be voting for Jung again. If you don’t listen to your constituents, then you should not hold the position.

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