Past Republican Party County Board members can take full credit for overtaxing local residents for the county’s nursing home, Valley Hi.
Voters passed a referendum to build a new complex and Board members decided to keep the money rolling in after its bonds were repaid.
They used the typical taxeater argument:
If we don’t take it, we’ll lose it forever.
Of course, the retort to that argument is that taxpayers would save it forever.
Wonder Lake’s John Hammerand, a long-term member of the Finance Committee until kicked off by Joe Gottemoller after Hammerand had the audacity to challenge him for Chairman, was the first to draw my attention to the incredible Valley Hi surplus.
2014 District 1 GOP candidate David Stieper brought up the unnecessary pot of money in his unsuccessful campaign at a candidate’s night which the Northwest Herald did not cover and one I did not write up.
Mike Walkup picked up the issue and while running against Jack Franks for Chairman in 2016 convinced his Republican colleagues to wipe it out, an over three percent tax cut.
Unfortunately, the action was a one-year abatement, rather than an outright abolition of the levy.
(Over $40 million was in the Valley Hi bank accounts at the time and the enterprise was pretty much breaking even. I figured it would take a really long time to run down the excessive balance and, if that ever happened, voters could be asked to pass a modest new tax.)
But the twenty-four Republicans, just before Jack Franks took office, totally reinstated the tax.
Franks announced that he wanted to refund $15 million, then $15 million, but only to those who had Homestead Exemptions.
As of last October, there were 87,918 Homestead Exemptions.
Franks proposed hiring an outside firm to send $100 checks to those almost 88,000 homeowner-presumable voters.
Naturally, the checks would come with a letter from Franks.
Ignored in this iteration of the tax rebate proposal were the approximate 20,276 homeowners who do not have Homestead Exemptions.
So almost 19% of homeowners were left out of the Franks rebate plan.
Ignored in this proposal were owners of commercial, manufacturing, agricultural and apartment owners.
The following legislation mentioning rebates of excessive taxes may in a Homestead Exemption context well be what Franks is hanging his hat on:
So, the law does not provide for repayments of illegally levied taxes in direct proportion to the amounts individual taxpayers paid.
Challengeable in court?
I’ll leave that for attorneys to answer in the comment section.
More recently, Franks has upped the ante to $25 million from $15 million.
That would leave about $15 million in Valley Hi bank accounts, enough to run the nursing home for about a year and a half.
Franks’ wish to have a letter with his letterhead accompany checks to homeowner-voters seems out of the question, because the statute says the County “Treasurer shall disburse the amounts.”