With the time rolling around when the McHenry County Board will be voting on how much to extract from our wallets in property taxes, there is $2.75 million still in the tentative budget for the Valley Hi Nursing Home.
As most readers of McHenry County Blog know, there is over $40 million ($41,283,178) in the bank in this segregated account.
It can’t be used, according to state law, for anything but Valley Hi.
No way to transfer it to cut some other part of county government’s operation.
Last year the real estate tax levy was $79 million.
This year’s levy was $3 million less with GOP County Board Chairman candidate Mike Walkup leading the way to eliminating the proposed $3 million Valley Hi tax levy.
Now the County Board is faced with the question of whether to zero out the Valley Hi levy for a second year or not.
Doing so will eliminate the voter-approved tax rate FOREVER.
Not doing so will allow it to continue.
There are arguments on both sides.
Those wishing to keep the taxing authority point out that Medicaid payments are too low to allow a break-even operation.
The $10-11 million annual budget will be short something less than $1 million this year, which will come from the surplus.
Those in favor of ending the tax point out that a drawdown of a million dollars a year, even adding in enough money for a new roof on the ten-year old building, and taking into account inflation means the huge surplus will take a really long time to exhaust.
And, as McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler pointed out, if more money is needed down the road, the County Board can always as voters in a referendum for permission to levy it.
Now, to the donkey in the room.
State Rep. Jack Franks has been harsh in his criticism of Valley Hi’s management in his Town Hall Meetings.
Franks has criticized having money to cover four years’ budgets in the bank.
(Almost as if he has been taking pointers from McHenry County Blog, which I know he reads.)
So, let me address the following to the twenty-four Republicans on the McHenry County Board:
Franks has pledged to cut people’s tax bill by 10%.
We all know that he can’t do that, that he is just pandering for votes among those who don’t know much about how the property tax system works.
He can, however, have influence on the County budget, if he is elected.
He won’t have a vote.
But, let’s assume that you Republicans bump the budget back up to the $79 million level, where it was before you cut the $3 million Valley Hi levy back to zero.
10% of $79 million is $7.9 million.
$2.75 million is 3.4% of $79 million.
Now, if I were Jack Franks and had won the election, I would immediately propose cutting the Valley Hi levy to zero.
That would give Franks a two-fer.
He would be
- cutting the County Budget by 3.4% and
- abolishing a tax
“He can’t do that by himself,” some of you will say.
True, but he can beat opponents about the head in the paper who favors pretty much anything he does, knowing that the majority of local taxpayer-voters agree with eliminating the tax…forever.
If Franks does so, I predict that the majority of Republicans on the Board will go along with him.
Maybe kicking and screaming, but the hallmark of the Republican Party is lower taxes, not higher taxes.
So, Republican County Board members, should Republicans get the credit for abolishing a tax that is not needed?
Or do you want to take the chance of giving Jack Franks a chance to claim credit over the objections of Republicans?