You may remember that McHenry County Blog revealed that the County’s nursing home, Valley Hi, has $35 million in the bank. That’s as of the end of November, 2013.
Now, it’s $36 million.
A lot of that is clearly surplus and, in my opinion, should never have been taxed.
Valley Hi has a quite competent administrator, Tom Annarella.
He balances the $10 million budget.
$10 million out.
$10 million in.
Yet the McHenry County Board has kept taxing us more over the years.
“Why?” you might ask.
The reason is the Property Tax Cap.
If the County lowers the amount collected to nothing, the tax is dead.
Under a perverse and unexpected side effect of the Real Estate Tax Cap, the amount collected in year 2 can only be what was collected in year 1, plus the increase in the Cost of Living.
The amount of tax requested for Valley Hi has gone from $6 million to 5 1/2 million to 4 3/4 million.
Next year, the plan was to ask for $3 million.
Unless the County can figure out how to spend that $3 million, the $36 million balance in the bank will increase next year.
The Administrator of Valley Hi stated that there is $15 to $20 million too much in the fund.
My guess is that his estimate of the surplus is too low, but let’s go with it.
So, how can the taxpayer be protected?
How does one give tax relief to the taxpayer?
My suggestion to several county officials has been to think outside of the box.
Instead of looking the law as it is, figure out how it would have to be to allow the surplus to diminish.
Ask local legislators to change the law.
If I could write the law, I would allow an immediate rebate of $20 million.
That would allow $16 million or so to sit idle.
$10 million would be earmarked for the worst case scenario of the state and Federal government’s providing no reimbursement.
The rest would be set aside for capital improvements.
There could be political cover for this.
Think of how those running for office in 2016 could brag about having cut taxes.
So, how does one meet the goal of some county officials to have the ability to levy the tax approved by the voters without another referendum and give the surplus millions back to taxpayers?
I don’t know the answer, but the subject seems to be up for discussion at the Thursday morning (8:30) meeting of the Legislative Committee.