Attacking the Property Tax Problem

Rural Woodstock resident Susan Handelsman put the following together after reading about some of State Rep. Jack Franks’ bills.

Tax Relief Bills Won’t Approach Solving the Problem

Political proposals for property tax relief seem to focus on temporary freezes, along with rate cuts for narrow population segments.

These strategies won’t do anything to mitigate the toxic nature of McHenry County economy.

With most of McHenry County suffering property tax rates higher than 3% (Woodstock is 4.6%), local real estate represents a negative store of value.

Property tax rates this high distort all aspects of local economy.

PTELL [Tax Cap]-type tactics aren’t much relief.

Aside from loopholes you could drive a school bus through, tax-hike limitations offer no restorative relief.

Consider an actual example:

Tax House + DollarsWoodstock CUSD 200 levy is $59 million on an Equalized Assessed Value of $719 million, making school portion of tax rate on total home value 2.74%.

Raising the levy 1% raises tax rate to 2.76%, raising the levy 2% brings tax rate up to 2.79%, levy up 3% = 2.82%, 4% = 2.84%, 5% = 2.87%.

(Note: 2.74% tax represents $2,740 per $100,000 of home value. In the past 24 years, CPI inflation has only exceeded 4% once, and only exceeded 3% five times).

As is apparent, the problem does not lie in arresting hikes valued at tens of dollars per hundred thousand of home value, the problem is the current tax rate for school alone which is double the national average.

In Woodstock the tax rate is 2.74% for schools, another 1% or so for Woodstock City and fire & rescue, and another 1% or so for Countywide taxes (MCC, MCCD, County and township government).

4.76% of total home value.

A 4.76% property tax rate proves by its very existence that local elected officials have no desire or ability to manage affairs within a reasonable budget.

Municipalities all over America manage to educate children and stave off social chaos for an average 1.4% property tax rate.

It is doable, but in McHenry County there is intractable resistance to doing it.

Clearly, outside intervention is needed.

In order for that intervention to be meaningful it must address current conditions.

Obvious solution: Tax Rate Cap. 2.5%, like Massachusetts although Indiana with its 1% residential property tax rate cap will remain comparatively attractive to potential residents).

Tax freezes are cold comfort to homeowners in McHenry County.


Attacking the Property Tax Problem — 7 Comments

  1. Big tif in downtown Woodstock due to expire in 2020, city hall signalling intension to get extension.

    Currently collecting about$650,000 as year.

    New Lakewood tif at 47&176 will compete for any business; those businesses in Lakewood tif will pay zero property tax revenue to D200 because they will be built on cornfield s and golf course, almost zero current eav.

    Enterprise Zone through out Woodstock is abating property taxes for I believe 8 years.

  2. Until we get Springfield to do its job and place a referendum on the ballot this fall to remove the Public Pension guarantee, we are all chasing our tails.

    The McSweeney / Franks bill posted recently below is an embarrassment.

    I wonder how Skillicorn voted on the TIFs in East Dundee?

  3. State Representative Jack Franks is of no use to taxpayers.

    Vote him out.

    He cannot provide meaningful tax relief because his primary contributors include unions whom are against meaningful tax reform which is why Jack Franks accused Governor Bruce Rauner of being a union buster.

    To him and the unions, scaling back past hikes is union busting, irregardless if such hikes were not sustainable at the time they were passed.

    Exhibit A being underfunded pension benefit hikes to pension systems that were already underfunded, each hike which was contractual and cannot be diminished or impaired per the State Constitution.

    Ditto Retiree healthcare.

    We live in a state that has a broken legislative system and one sentence added to the State Constitution on December 15, 1970 that is clearly flawed and a flat out scam against taxpayers.

    The pension sentence did not protect pensions.

    It resulted in underfunded pension benefit hikes to underfunded pension systems.

    Ditto retiree healthcare.

    So since the press does explain any of this, we need taxpayer watchdogs for taxing districts and proposed legislation, because the special interest groups are organized and well capitalized.

    What a mess.

  4. There are many opportunities to cut spending, but those empowered to tax refuse to do so.
    Just two examples:

    1.Woodstock is paying a lobbyist $60,000 a year, and the State is broke.

    Either she has done her job and obtained Rte 47 funds or not.

    If not, she is incompetent and should be fired. If she already has done so, she is no longer needed and should be fired.

    (PS those funds will be of far more benefit to Lakewood TIF at corner of 47&176 than good for Woodstock; drivers hit that intersection 5 miles prior to hitting Woodstock.)

    2. Woodstock D200 is operating a very old building at full capacity (student capacity 300) but only has enrollment of 70 students. This building ‘needs’ $1.5 million capital ‘improvements’.

    These 70 students could be fit into either of the two D200 high schools operating at around half of enrollment capacity: around 900 students at each with enrollment capacity of 1600-1800 or 2100-2300 depending on which authority is cited.

    This wasted ops&maintenance expense has gone on for a decade and partially explains why Woodstock property tax rates are now 4.6% of total home value.

  5. Americans for Property-Illinois is working on circulating petitions to put a non-binding referendum in targeted areas on the ballot this November. The referendum’s language is:

    “Shall each taxing body located partially or wholly within the corporate limits of the _____ of _____ be required to seek voter approval by referendum prior to increasing its annual total property tax levy?” Options of YES or NO.

    AFP’s activists in Homer Glen successfully put it on their ballot for the primary and it passed with 87% of the vote. McHenry County has plenty of dedicated conservatives that could take on a project like this and replicate the same success.

    Social change is all about grassroots activists building up momentum in their communities to influence decision-makers. Americans for Prosperity is a great vehicle to make real policy changes. It is under utilized, in my opinion, by conservative activists in Northern Illinois.

    It’s quite frustrating to see such a bunch of passionate people so discouraged that they feel as if they can’t make serious change happen, when you have an organization like AFP that is so willing to work with individuals to make a difference.

    Just some food for thought in regards to actually moving the ball forward with property tax freezes and what it actually takes to make a difference from a grassroots perspective.

  6. Kane County has their Tax Computation reports up for this year.

    Where the H are the reports for McHenry County?

    Just like the sample ballots for the primary – available in Kane but NOT in McHenry in a timely manner.

    Guaranteed her royal highness will have lots of excuses! The next two years can’t go by quick enough!!!!!

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