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.