Message of the Day – A Tee Shirt for Tax Hikers

Today’s message is dedicated to those McHenry County Board members and other tax district officials who have or will cast “Yes” votes for any budget which exceeds last year’s extension.

Voting for property tax levies that are greater than last year’s collection run the very real risk of increasing taxes of existing taxpayers. That’s because most tax districts are below their statutory maximum tax rate. Those tax rates were forced down in the over a decade when real estate inflation exceeded the increase in the CPI. The result now is that virtually any tax district can ask for the 3% inflationary increase allowed this coming year and get it. The County Clerk merely increases the tax districts tax rate to make it happen…even with lower assessment levels on people’s homes.

The tee shirt says, “Whatever it is, I didn’t do it!”

That pretty much sums up what tax hiking local officials say when asked if they raised our property tax bills.

Some will remember that the “extension” is the amount of taxes that are collected. (In reality, it is about 99.9% of the taxes collected, but my definition is more than adequate for “government work.”)

All tax districts are allowed by the Property Tax Cap to collect what they had last year, plus the increase in the Cost of Living, defined as the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

That number is 3% for next year’s taxes.

Schools and other tax districts are also allowed to collect money on new construction which was not previously in the tax base.

I have written how I believe that capturing that new growth is perfectly appropriate and that our legislators should change the Real Estate Tax Cap (“PTELL” to the technocrats) so that it could be taxed without running the risk of increasing the tax burden on existing property owners.

To the best of my knowledge no state rep. or senator has taken up that cause.

Because they haven’t, tax district boards err on the side of asking for (levying) too much money.

There’s enough to get all the new growth, but such “balloon” levies are usually high enough to slap existing homeowners and businesses with increased taxes as high as the increase in the CPI as well.

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Filing for non-partisan office, where most of the taxes are levied, is from December 17th to 24th. The County Board members will be elected on November 6th.

And, speaking of the County Board.  I want to believe that the Board will not tax to the max this year, as I read in Kevin Craver’s Northwest Herald article, but unless the Board votes before the election, I remain a skeptic.

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