From a comment left by “KnownExtremist:”
Here is the story with Valley Hi.
In 2002 the voters approved a referendum to allow a special real estate tax to be imposed on them to fund Valley Hi.
At that time, Valley Hi was serving mostly Medicaid patients and so its level of reimbursement from the state fell far short of it’s annual operation expenses.
The figure on the tax to be imposed at that time reflected that.
In the ensuing years the director of Valley Hi was shown the door and there was a change in administration.
This was accompanied by a new direction from the County Board to start taking more private pay and Medicare patients.
As a result of better administration and the change in the bed mix, the annual deficit shrunk, and money started to accumulate.
Due to the GOP initiated tax cap legislation, once a taxing body fails to take the allowed increases, or decreases the amount previously taken, they become stuck at that level forever, with only the allowed annual increases thereafter.
Since payment from the state are always in doubt, with that probability increasing each year due to the maladministration of the state budget, there is a risk that money will be needed in the future if the amount taxed is permanently reduced.
In my opinion it does not make sense to apply the tax cap legislation to taxes that were approved by a voter referendum.
By approving that referendum, the voters were saying that is it OK to tax them up to that amount.
So those taxing bodies should be able to raise and lower the tax levies so long as they stay within the amount originally approved by the voters. However, the tax cap law does not allow for such an exception.
At this point it is unclear if any portion of that reserve can be refunded to the voters as the current balance reflects an admixture of state, federal, and private funds that were received over the years, plus people who have sold their houses would not receive the rebates, which would go to the new owners who had not been the ones paying the taxes in previous years before they owned the property.
The County Board has partially addressed this by the discovery that the tax can be effectively cut in half without losing the ability to continue to collect the full amount in the future should it be needed by employing a “look back”. which allows for the tax to only be imposed in alternate years.
They are also able to borrow against the Valley Hi reserve for other uses such as capital improvement projects so long as it is paid back with interest at some future date.
Other that it is problematic what can be done.
To put it in perspective, the Valley Hi tax pales in comparison to what is imposed by the school districts.
The state legislature has chosen to not provide the full funding seemingly called for in the 1970 state constitution and rely on local school districts to self fund the difference through local real estate taxes.
This has given Illinois the second highest real estate taxes in the nation. (I think New Jersey is first). Several other states with higher overall taxes have much lower property taxes than Illinois.
Property taxes, unlike many other taxes, do not reflect the current ability of the taxpayer to pay, and so retired people on fixed incomes find themselves unable to pay their real estate taxes once they are no longer employed but still own their homes.
Hence the flight from Illinois.
Meanwhile, the public continues to largely ignore school boards doings and school board elections in favor of focusing on county government which does little more than serve as the collection agency for taxes imposed by other taxing bodies throughout the county.
If people continue to misdirect their efforts at tax reduction, they will get nowhere.
It’s time to dust off those petition forms to run for school board elections next Spring.
This will be a lot more effective than writing poems.
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One thing the writer does not take into account is how resentful Mike Madigan is that Jim Edgar forced the Tax Cap his throat.
The result is that he refuses virtually every rational attempt that would lessen any negative impact on the suburbs, where the pressure from for what the technocrats call PTELL originated.
His attitude is basically, “You made your bed. Now, sleep in it.”