Tax Bills and Assessments

With State Rep. Jack Franks about to get lots of publicity about keeping real estate tax bills down, it’s worth looking at the underlying problem.

This is the third or fourth article I have written on the subject.  It’s a complex topic, so worth repeating.

After the Tax Cap (PTELL to insiders) was passed, real estate inflation exceeded the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

I remember the year before the law took effect in 1993, Crystal Lake High School District 155 took the entire 17% hike in property value out of our pockets. The CPI increase, of course, was much lower.

After the the Property Tax Cap took effect, the County Clerk’s Office had to impose limits on the increase in the

(Home Rule cities, those over 25,000 automatically, e.g., Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, and those where citizens have approved Home Rule status in a referendum, e.g., Barrington Hills, can get as much money as their elected officials want. Indeed the main reason that cities like Woodstock and Huntley will have a special census as soon as they think they have crossed the 25,000 person level will in order to get revenue not otherwise available. See most recent U.S. Census results for McHenry County municipalities here. Woodstock is 270 people short of the magic number of 25,000; Huntley – 707.)

Bill Vaselopulos, the long-time and quite knowledgeable tax rate guy for the Cook County Clerk, was quoted in an article about a little over a week ago about how the system works.

Reporter Lisa Donovan summarized Vaselopulos’ explanation well:

“This year, a drop in assessed values of homes, along with a drop in the state equalizer, drove the tax rates up in most parts of the county to meet the demands of the taxing districts.”

Note how she uses the word “demands” to describe what tax district officials do.

I mention this because it is so rare that reporters present tax information from a taxpayers’ point of view.

Reporters would usually use the word “request,” not “demand.”

School board, special district and municipal officials are not forced to ask for more money.

They could ask for the same amount they are getting in the current year.

But, I don’t know of any tax district under the tax cap whose elected officials did not try to capture the maximum amount of money allowed under the tax cap, in other words, the entire 2.7% increase in the CPI allowed by law.

McHenry County property owners have already paid that increase…assuming they had enough money set aside to pay on time.

Next year, greedy tax districts will only be able to extract 1.7% out of homeowners’ pockets. (For a history of CPI’s since the Tax Cap took effect, click here.)

That, of course, means tax bills will go up next year.


Comments

Tax Bills and Assessments — 3 Comments

  1. Quoting from the above post, “But, I don’t know of any tax district under the tax cap whose elected officials did not try to capture the maximum amount of money allowed under the tax cap, in other words, the entire 2.7% increase in the CPI allowed by law.”

    Weren’t there a few?
    From McHenryCountyBlog.com May 9, 2011 post:
    “I have done some Crystal Lake area comparisons and found two tax districts which bit the bullet and asked for the same amount of money this year as they got last year.
    Drum roll, please.
    Calculating from a neighbor’s tax bill, the tax districts worthy of praise in this trying economy are
    Crystal Lake High School District 155
    Crystal Lake Park District
    City of Crystal Lake
    Their bills this year are about as close as one can come. All three are with hundredths of a percent of last year’s bills.”

    http://mchenrycountyblog.com/category/gand-community-advocates/

    Chris Williams and Grafton Algonquin Nunda Dorr Community Advocates (GAND Community Advocates or GANDCA) is fighting the “max the tax cap”, budget, and collective bargaining battles in Crystal Lake HSD 155.

    http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2011/02/17/grafton-algonquin-nunda-dorr-community-advocates-issues-statement/

    Hopefully similar taxpayer groups will form to keep other taxing districts in check.

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