Prairie Grove trustee calls property tax freeze 'a sham'
Illinois township opposition to a proposed property tax freeze isn't necessarily about maintaining fiefdoms in the state where there are so many of them, Prairie Grove Village Trustee Lisa Behm said during a recent interview.
"Townships may not support this because I think they have limited ability to borrow, school districts borrow heavily as do many municipalities," Behm told the McHenry Times. "I am not positive about the ability to issue bonds or otherwise borrow."
During the fall veto session, state lawmakers discussed Senate Bill 851, which would establish a two-year property tax freeze for Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties. The measure would allow those counties to increase property taxes only with voter approval.
All other counties would be subject to referendums asking whether a property tax freeze should be imposed for 2018 and 2019 or that all governments within a county jurisdiction be subject to a property tax freeze over that period and to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for levy year 2020 and the foreseeable future.
Bryan Smith, the executive director of the Township Officials of Illinois, had sent a legislative alert to township officials about SB851, asking them to urge their state lawmakers to oppose the measure.
The legislation was not brought up for a vote in the Senate before the veto session ended.
Illinois' tax climate is "crushing" but not because of townships, Behm said. "School pensions are what is crushing taxpayers," she said.
"This township witch hunt is a distraction and a way for lawmakers that don't have the inclination to fight the teachers to pretend that they are doing something to lower taxes. In fact the entire tax freeze proposal you are referring to is a sham. It won't lower anyone's taxes," she said.
Voters need to be keenly aware of who supports property tax freeze proposals, including SB851, and why, Behm said. "Voters should take note of this bill and vote out everyone who supports it," she said.
"We need real solutions for the mess we're in, not lip service and further worthless promises, creative financing, kicking the can, etc.," she said.