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Illinois House approves property tax freeze during declining property assessments

The Chicago Sun Times reported today that the Illinois House passed SB2073 and sent the measure back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments added by Jack Franks (D-Marengo). The bill, which was approved 74-39, freezes property taxes during years of declining assessments.

The amendments to the Senate bill include the language of Franks’ HB 3793 and his recently introduced HB4608, covered in two previous posts, which prohibit taxing bodies from increasing their taxes in any year when the assessed value of property within their boundaries dropped from the previous year – unless voters approve.

Chuck Jefferson and Joe Sosnowski voted to approve SB2073, which provides some hope to frustrated taxpayers around the state, whose taxes keep going up under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) or (Tax Cap) legislation, while home values are declining.

Two of our local representatives, Jim Sacia and Dave Winters, continued to vote against this legislation, as they did with HB3793.

Excerpt:

Opponents of Franks’ bill said it would hamstring already cash-strapped municipalities, potentially leaving them unable to provide basic services to residents.

“This could be dangerous for communities,” said Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville), who voted against the legislation.

These legislators are simply wrong! First, the bill only removes the inflation component of the PTELL law. Inflation has averaged 2.5% for the last 10 years. That’s not going to be “dangerous” for any taxing body and certainly will not leave them unable to provide basic services.

SB2073 doesn’t stop the taxing districts from going to the voters with a referendum, if they can justify a tax increase – that’s in the bill. However, the taxing bodies would prefer to raise taxes through an unintended backdoor referendum provision in PTELL, rather then justify their reasons for further tax increases to the voters.

The real reason taxing groups and their supporters want to maximize the property taxes is they do not want to lower the tax base for future year’s PTELL tax calculations.

During the current economic conditions, with declining home values, taxing districts will just have to make do with the amount of taxes they collected the previous year. When the economy starts to improve, and home values start to increase, SB2073 would no longer apply unless there is a future downturn in home values.

Taxing bodies’ possess the mindset that they are “entitled” to tax our earnings to the maximum allowed by law, not what is actually required to provide services. PTELL was originally passed to limit these municipalities from grabbing everything they could during the booming housing market in the 1990′s.

When these taxing entities realized, that with decreasing property values, they could take even more from taxpayers, due to an unintended consequence of the PTELL law, they levied the maximum taxes allowed for the last three years!

The public employee lobbyists will come out in force trying to stop this legislation in the Senate, since the bill was fast-tracked through the House and the lobbyists didn’t have time to rally their troops against it, as they did against HB3793 last November.

Illinois taxpayers should worry that their ‘local legislators’ seem more concerned with the taxing bodies, than their property tax paying constituents!

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4 Comments

  1. Curtis Newport

    Ok Ted. I guess the folks in Springfield really are smarter than we are.

    I guess we’re too stupid to elect local officials to make local decisions based on local circumstances. Maybe the almighty Springfield holier-than-thous really are better able to manage our local governments than the people we elected to do those jobs. Maybe we’re just to incompetent to act in our own best interests.

    Maybe the legislature that hasn’t approved a balanced budget in years, pays its bills late with borrowed money and has the worst bond rating in the nation, really is qualified lecture local governments on fiscal responsibility.

    Maybe it’s perfectly fine that a state government that can’t stop deficit spending, even after a 67% tax increase, thinks that local governments can go for years without even adjusting their levies for inflation.

    Maybe it’s ok for the State politicians to give us the authority to approve PTELL through LOCAL referendum, then change the rules without local input eighteen years later.

    Maybe it’s perfectly fine that the same nanny-state legislature that has blessed us with protected unions, a ridiculous prevailing wage law, and a list of million-dollar unfunded mandates as long as your arm, thinks they also need to handcuff our ability to generate the revenue required to pay for the services they force us to provide.

    I have always favored smaller, less expensive and less intrusive government. And local districts can and should hold the line on spending. The Winnebago County Board and the Rock Valley College Board proved it can be done, for one year at least. But the undeniable reality is that oppressive state laws make local government expensive, despite the best efforts of local officials.

    None of us should condone the sanctimonious “let them eat cake” mentality coming out of Springfield with this bill. None of us should deceive ourselves into believing that state politicians can run our local governments and schools better than we can. Any time our state government takes control away from local governments, we should be afraid. Very afraid.

  2. Steve Noll

    This is good news. But… likley to have the unintended consequence of eliminating any possibility of tax rates going down once the market recovers and property values increase. Our high property tax rates are probably stuck at 12% for a very long time. The next round of property tax relief should put a cap on the overall rate.

    • Ted Biondo

      Very astute observation Steve. That’s why the locals are raising the tax base as high as they can for future years when the economy turns around. That is the base upon which future tax calculations will be based.

      However, that’s why it is so important for all voters to be informed as you are, and vote in people who will vote for efficient use of taxpayer’s money. The local officials can lower the property tax rate, without the state code, anytime they want!

  3. truth hurts

    QUOTE (against the bill)

    Opponents of Franks’ bill said it would hamstring already cash-strapped municipalities, potentially leaving them unable to provide basic services to residents.

    To this I say WELCOME TO REAL LIFE. You are facing the economic realities that the taxpayer WHO PAYS THE TAX has to face in their lives. We have to cut costs, reduce our budgets, and SET PRIORITIES.

    If I have to do this to make ends meet then SO DO THE MUNICIPALITIES.

    Now as for the law, the politicians are (deliberately??????) making this MUCH MORE complicated than it has to be.

    In the easiest terms to understand (something alien to lawmakers) you keep the tax caps (making it harder to raise) in place and remove the “adjustments” that allow legally the taxing bodies to cerumvent the basic economics the rest of ANYTHING bought/sold face.

    Again my milk analogy (which seems to work). If milk has a “tax cap” of 10% with no “adjustments allowed” the cost drops from 2.00 to 1.00, the tax paid goes from .20 to .10.

    Then if you need more taxes you have to raise (make it hard/ cap) the limit.

    Gee simple.

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