Area legislators get second chance to reduce property taxes

It looks like our state legislators will get a second chance to reduce our property taxes. Last November, area legislators voted against House Bill 3793, which would have eliminated the tax cap inflation component from our property tax bills when property values declined.

An unintended consequence of tax caps allows taxing bodies to levy the same amount of taxes as the previous levy year, plus the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less.

So, even as property values decrease, taxing bodies subject to tax caps are permitted by law to increase the property tax RATES to recover the previous year’s taxes, plus the inflation component – thereby increasing property taxes even in a declining housing market.

Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has introduced another property tax reduction bill, HB4608, similar to HB3793, except that this time Franks made it county specific for counties with a population between 300,000 and 400,000.

A fellow legislator had suggested that he should try a pilot program for his home county, since the last bill was defeated 34-73, including all our area representatives voting NO. HB4608 again seeks to eliminate the inflation component of the misnomer – Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (Tax Caps).

After the 2010 census, the population in Winnebago County was reported to be 295,266. Winnebago County should be very close to 300,000 currently. Even if we are short of the required 300,000, our legislators should amend the bill to include Winnebago County.

No excuses from our legislators this time and remember, your constiuents also includes the taxpayers, not just the officials of the taxing bodies or those receiving services.


Government officials often argue that if they do not take advantage of collecting the full amount available to them, their maximum allowable tax rates will erode, potentially putting them in financial peril down the road.

Many of our residents are in financial peril now. Rising property taxes in an economy with falling home values is the same as confiscating money from property owners.

Let your voices be heard. Tell your city officials, alderman and school district officials to layoff HB4608. Demand that your legislators vote for an amended bill if necessary, when it comes to the floor of the General Assembly in Springfield.

Tell them that the people in our county, and in our state, are taxed to the max, primarily by our school districts and city councils, and the mayors, while our property values continue to decline and this bill would limit property taxes to no more than that paid the previous year.

Forbes reported that Rockford was ranked 5th highest property taxes in the United States as a percent of property value in 2010. Property values dropped even more in 2011 and taxes have increased in 2011 and will again in 2012.

Therefore, if property taxes are raised by the city and the school district again this year to the PTELL max, the percentage of property taxes will approach 4% of home value, which could place Rockford in the top spot for property taxes in the country.

HB4608 was introduced on Feburary 1, 2012 and was referred to the Rules Committee. Demand that this bill be approved or vote to remove the people from office who continue to ignore the plight of area taxpayers!

Call Rep. Chuck Jefferson, 815-987-7433 or 217-782-3176; Jim Sacia, 815-232-0774 or 217-782-8186; Joe Sosnowski, 815-547-3436 or 217-782-0548; Dave Winters, 815-282-0083 or 217-782-0445.



  1. Illinois should pass a law that would allow home buyers to prepay all their property taxes at once, in one lump sum, when they purchase the home. They would then be exempt from all property taxes for as long as they own the home.

    Say 30% or so, fully deductible from federal income taxes, and rolled into the mortgage.

    Illinois politicians, who have double-digit IQs at best, would jump at the chance to swell the tax revenue for a few years. But the home buyers would have the last laugh if they own the property for more than 7 or 8 years.

    Actually, while I’m waving my magic wand, we should abolish property taxes altogether. Government revenue should be generated from light taxes on nonessential economic activity, not on simply being a property owner.

    And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a state constitutional amendment that would help. If taxes are raised in any year, that year’s legislators and governor are barred from re-election to any office in Illinois (even dogcatcher) for 10 years. No… make it 20 years. No… make it (100 – x) years, where x is the average number of years that convicted murderers in Illinois spend in jail.

    I write this partially in jest, but the day is coming when politicians will start getting measured, rewarded, and punished for job performance, just like shoe salesmen and meter maids are now.

  2. Steve Noll

    It’s already too late, Tax rates are at an all time high. Not increasing them any further would be great, but they need to be reduced significantly. Tax caps should be amended to max out the rate at 10% of property values. No increase ever. Let the taxing bodies fight it out over the share of that money and encourage them to increase values to get thier increases in revenue.

    • Ted Biondo

      You are right Steve – a 10% rate would be more than enough to do what the municipalities are supposed to do, not 12% as it will be close to this year. But Sacia, Sosnowski and Winters and Jefferson stuck it to taxpayers, and until we can get the law changed by voting for the original bill in November, we are stuck with that new, higher tax base thanks to them. Now we have a second chance to call our respective legislators and ask that they vote for this amendment and amend it if necessary to include Winnebago county.

      We will be living in the 11th highest taxed county – Winnebago – and the number one taxed city – Rockford – in the United States – an intolerable situation.

      Scacia told me last night at the Lincoln Day Dinner, with a straight face, that they had to vote against the amendment to Tax Caps, and lower our taxes, because it would have been too devastating a cut for the taxing bodies in their districts. He called the taxing bodies his constituents. Sosnowski was told the same thing by his constituents the City, The school districts, etc. We need to revolt against this type of thinking or we will be paying everything we have to the powers that be.

      The amount of money that we are talking about, dealing with regarding the tax caps is about 2 or 3% of the increase, not the base – a small amount that could be cut from their budgets. I can’t believe these politicians would worry more about the taxing bodies in their district than their constituent taxpayers!!!

  3. truth hurts

    As much as I try I cannot be hopeful that any true tax reduction (what we really pay) is going to happen.

    I think the odds are much better joining a poker game with santa clause, easter bunny, tooth fairy, and frosty the snowman.

    Pass the chips and deal the cards

  4. Bill Chamberlain

    I looked at my tax bill for 2011 and noticed a 15% increase in 205’s levy. If they are getting this much in a couple of years why we the citizens approve a referendum? I don’t care if they do say it will not require a increase in taxes, if they don’t sunset them it is a increase. Sunset then vote, you know as well as I it would fail.

    • Ted Biondo

      You are correct Bill. There is no increase in tax rate but without the sunset, it is an increase in taxes. The City and Schools which represent 74% of the tax bill have been maxing out their taxes with the Tax Cap law in a decreasing home market.

  5. The most amazing aspect to me is the willingness of politicians to kill the goose that produces the golden egg, not to mention their disregard for the well being of their fellow citizens. The property tax is argueably the most regressive of taxes. Even the flat FICA tax is mitigated by credits for low income families. The property tax has no link to an ability to pay. In an era of unemployment, underemployment, falling wages, rising taxes and declining property values, it is pushing many local homeowners over the edge into default. If it is the desire of government to continue the death spiral of the local real estate market and the overall economy they are certainly succeeding. We are told that massive FED inflation, corporate bailouts, and huge government debt are producing a “recovery”. If that’s true, how long would it take for the local area to actually benefit and stabilize the real estate market? 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? If our representatives are determined to squeeze out every last drop of blood in the meantime, they may wake up in a ghost town when the “recovery” rolls past.

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