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Public entities have never met a tax they didn’t like!

Dennis G. Eksten, former board president, North Suburban Library District in a recent “Your Views” letter lamented the Rockford Register Star editorial board’s position advocating for passage of SB2073 Tax Cap law, which would keep revenues available to local taxing districts at their current level in a declining home market.

The board president equated that to a reduction in the revenue available to the library, because even a decrease in growth is a “reduction” to a public entity advocate.

Mr. Eksten said that this bill ignores the rising costs of everything the library uses – such as personnel insurance programs, employee benefits and wages, higher postage, etc. which is out of the control of the library. How oblivious to the taxpayers plight!

What about taxpayer’s rising costs, while their biggest investment – their home – is decreasing in value? Tax Caps allow the library and other public entities to keep taking ever higher taxes from the property owners regardless of the property’s value?

The City of Rockford and the Rockford School Distric, which account for almost 75% of local tax bills, utilize the Tax Cap Law to the max and have pushed Rockford to one of the top five taxed cities in the United States.

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 the Tax Cap law, rather then justify their reasons for further tax increases to the voters.

Mr Eksten has urged a “NO” vote on SB2073, because public entity advocates have never met a tax they didn’t like, regardless of its effects on the property owners, who also must deal with rising costs.

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16 Comments

  1. In Illinois, public entities (and their unionized employees) view themselves as a class above. Sacrifices and cutbacks are for the little people, otherwise known as taxpayers. With that mentality, of course they don’t want to submit tax increases to a referendum. They just take whatever they want. If struggling homeowners are forced out of their homes, too bad, so long as they get theirs.
    When it comes right down to it, the faux concern for the less fortunate on the part of big government advocates proves to be pure hypocrisy. Their real motivation is, as always, lining their own pockets.

  2. Carol Foster

    Libraries certainly need to be looked at by residents and properly funded as they are a giant asset to any community. Using a tax cap to do that job would be unwise after seeing how the school districts used that with home owners to increase our taxes when our home’s values took at nose dive.
    I suggest an independent citizen’s committee study the financial problems of the librabries funding needs. Report back with how and if those needs can be met with our current revenues. Members of the community need to decide the amount of services & acceptable costs for taxpayers. It could be we need more volunteers, fund raising, and less hours of facilities being open in these difficult times to stay afloat. Taxing to keep levels of current services we can’t afford would be a mistake when our problem is most likely a temporary one. Temporary meaning just a matter of a few years until property values begin to rise again to more reasonable levels which doesn’t mean inflated levels.
    As for jmrc’s comment above calling those who have genuine concern for the less fortunate hypocrits, well, that’s just out of place in any discussion of how do we fund our liabraries. It shows a lack of problem solving skills and a whole lot of politics as usaual talk.
    Libraries are important so we need to concentrate on how best to solve their funding and kick to the curb any attempt to make that funding need politicial.

  3. Carol sez: “Taxing to keep levels of current services we can’t afford would be a mistake ….”

    Why don’t you have that same attitude with Federal spending?

  4. Carol Foster

    Here comes yet another poster with a question that doesn’t concern the library.
    Another one who has little interest in solving the problem of local libraries unless they can some how piggyback it onto a national topic.
    Got to wonder how some people make it through the grocery store with their list and not jump up on a soap box to have a political discussion on where the produce and packaged items originated?
    I rarely suggest reading materials here for anyone, but SNuss, why don’t you jmrc, go to the website of Lincoln, California to find the Sustainability Report done by cititzens over a number of months that the city council will be taking up about mid month. It’s over 400 pages, but clearly divided so you can find the part about how they suggest handeling libraries. They have quite a number of volunteers who kept the library open and operating once before in very difficult times for the community. You might even discover other parts of their report interesting in referance to other problems we all have in common.
    And if you need help in understanding how money works in the grocery store, let me know and I’ll take you shopping with your budget and show you how it’s done. When you’ve mastered that one you might be up for my attitude concerning Federal spending when that’s approiate to a topic here.

  5. RPS Citizen

    Here’s a link to the report that Carol Foster mentioned:
    http://lincal.net/FSC/reports/Writers/ShowReport.aspx?print=category&show=Library

  6. RPS Citizen

    JMRC, the assumption that public workers view themselves as a class above is really very … wrong. I know many public workers, and not a single one of them believes themselves to be any better than any other person. Maybe you’ve had different experiences, and if you have, then that’s perfectly reasonable. However, in my experience, public workers view themselves as serving the public. It just so happens that when a public worker fights to keep his or her job, it makes the news media. When private sector workers fight for their job, the media doesn’t cover that. It’s truly a shame when ANYONE falls victim to cutbacks, public employee or not.

  7. RPS Citizen

    Also, JMRC… Here’s a different take on your statement… You say that public employees are only out to line their own pockets. Well, here’s another angle:
    Aren’t you advocating to save your own money, to not pay as much in taxes? From someone else’s point of view, it could reasonably be said that you are out to only line your pockets and to hell with the public employee. If the public employee is struggling to make house payments and you want to cut their salary, then they’re just not as important as you paying less in taxes.
    It’s a fair perspective. Let’s keep in mind that public employees are people with families and bills to pay also. No one is getting rich working at the library. No one.

  8. RPS Citizen

    Now, to comment on the article itself and on Carol’s response. I believe Libraries are too valuable to lose. The last time the Library budget was cut back, it drastically affected my use of the library. I used to love going there after my kids were in bed to get some work done. Now, they close when my kids are just going to bed, so I use the library much less often now. I would really hate to see services cut even further, but if it saves the library, then maybe we have to explore that option. I wouldn’t mind paying higher late fees and paying small fees for some of the services. That way, instead of the entire taxpaying population paying taxes, those that use more of the service pay for more of the service. I would hate for Rockford libraries to not be free, but sometimes we need to bite the bullet to keep that service alive. I, personally, have no idea if these ideas work as solutions, though.; therefore, it would probably be good to explore all the options on the table before deciding on a course of action.
    I can’t blame the library administrators for fighting to keep their budget. That’s their job. They’re supposed to lobby for the interests of the institution they work for. It’s their job to advocate for the employees in their charge. This fact seems fairly obvious to me. Therefore, blasting these administrators for fighting to save their budget seems a little silly to me. When Mr. Ekstein says that library costs are rising, I don’t think he’s ignoring the plight of the taxpayer, I think he’s just doing his job and advocating for the library’s cause. In fact, if he didn’t argue for the library, I would be very confused about why he’s the administrator of the library in the first place.

  9. RPS Citizen

    One more point, related to my last post…
    Of course “public entities like taxes.” It’s their source of funding. To say that public entities should not like taxes or not argue for more funding would be like arguing that a corporation should not want to raise revenues. See, that’s the awesome part of public-funded entities, though: we own them. We get to decide whether or not they get more money through the legislative process. Right now, legislation allows these entities to raise revenue that seemed reasonable at first. But, apparently, that legislation was a little too generous because it didn’t not really account for periods of recession like the one that we’re in now. So, we, as taxpayers and as a city, need to revisit that legislation and try to make it work better than it is now. It’s not like the libraries and other public entities are evil, it’s just that the legislation WE wrote to fund them has not served our intended purpose. With a little elbow grease and determination, we can probably figure out a way to fund the libraries in a way that doesn’t hurt our bottom line, either. If that means we need to have a referendum every time they need to raise money, then so be it. I can also understand that the referendum process might be a bit cumbersome because it might not be fast enough to allow the library to make adjustments when necessary. Either way, the solution can be found if we, as a city, come together and openly discuss all options and focus on doing what’s best for as many people as we can.

  10. So you oppose referendums, Carol?
    Ramping up property taxes without a vote and then claiming concern for the less-fortunate is pure hypocrisy. There are many people who are severely affected by the increases, but I guess you are not concerned with them.
    Asking a local government to submit a referendum to the voters for a tax increase is not unreasonable. Voters in your own hometown of Machesney Park recently extended it’s sales tax by an overwhelming margin because they were satisfied with the way the money was being spent. And that’s as it should be.

    Why should other units of government not be required to be accountable to the voters as well?

    Both you and “RPS Citizen” have totally misrepresented Ted’s original post. It was not only about libraries. The state law in question will affect all local units of government. If I thought that both of you weren’t just being disingenuous, I would include a “Hooked on Phonics” link.

    And RPS, public employees receive benefits far in excess of nearly anyone in the private sector. But don’t take my word for it, here’s an analysis from economist Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute:

    http://innovationandgrowth.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/the-growing-gap-between-govt-and-private-sector-benefits/

    The PPI is hardly a conservative think tank, to put it mildly.

    The comment on hypocrisy I made must have hit a nerve with both of you, I guess you recognized yourselves, huh?

  11. RPS Citizen

    JMRC, did you read my posts? I actually support changing the structure. Thanks for not reading my thoughts. It’s very kind of you. I’m very glad that you know everything, JMRC. Actually, you’re so darn smart, why don’t you run for office?

  12. Actually, I did read your posts, RPS. If you had read mine, you would have noticed that my points regarding referendums were addressed to Carol.
    What I addressed to you was in response to comments on public employees. Your comments seemed not to recognize the huge differential in benefits that now exists between private sector and public sector employees. People across the political spectrum have labeled it “unsustainable” and they are right. I haven’t noticed public sector unions showing any willingness to sacrifice in terms of benefits, in the way that private sector employees have had to. In the end, if they don’t, the state and many local governments will end up in bankruptcy, as has already happened in several cities in California.
    As Ted has covered many times, employee costs make up the lions share of local government budgets. Which was my point in the first place.
    That underlying issue has to be addressed. And here in Illinois, it is not.

  13. RPS Citizen

    Here’s an article with some ideas we all can agree on:
    Government is cumbersome.
    Personal Responsibility is the path to effective society.
    Solutions exist if we’re willing to put in the effort.
    Read this. Very inspirational:
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/25/opinion/pahlka-code-government/index.html

  14. Carol Foster

    jmrc
    I think you missed what I originally said in reference to tax caps and the library and that I agreed with Ted.
    As for using referendum, I do support them and have in Machesney Park for changes the bar hours here (and that passed) as well as for the Road Tax. What I didn’t support in the case of the Road Tax was the referendum was poorly worded allowing in the future for the monies used for infrastructure could be used for other than residential streets. I clearly said the word “residential” needed to be infront of “infratstructure” so there could never be a mistake as to the intention of how that money was to be used to get my vote. Considering what was said about having a tax cap for the schools and what actually happened to our tax bills, I think I got it right. Referendums must be clearly worded to avoid misleading the public as to what and how the money can be used.

    You were the one to bring up the word hyposrisy which still has nothing to do with funding libraries. I leave that word with you now. It has no place in the discussion of libraries so slip it into your pocket and save it for another day when you have no solutions ot offer again.
    I did suggest you look at What Lincoln, CA. is doing and has done in the past when they had financail ;problems in reference to their keeping libraries open. It’s not a utube thing or a radical left wing or right wing report but a citizens committee who took the politics out of the financails and instead took the approach of simply solving the porblem in ways that serve the community best.
    I’ve never seen people being so dedicated to keeping libraries open and functioning as they have been for the past 20 years in Lincoln. The volunteers never stopped even when they were having good financial times. And they are still attempting to find a way to keep open the original very small library in their downtown area using all volunteers as they did 20 years ago. So suggesting you look at a non political way of handling a financial problem isn’t exactly off the wall, but than, you need not want to be more than a political voice in an election year who is willing to watch libraries pay the price for your foolishness in the matter.
    America is after all, all about choice.
    I like Lincoln’s idea of taking the politics out of the mix for their solutions. But than you know we silly leftist liberal whatevers, we actaully think you are asking for real solutions.

  15. If you want to get politics out of it, decertify the public sector unions, as Gov. Walker did in Wisconsin. He changed a State that was headed for billions in deficit spending, to actually having a small surplus. His actions also saved millions for Wisconsin school districts.
    Now, compare that to the fiscal record of Illinois, run by spendthrift, corrupt Chicago Democrats.

  16. Carol Foster

    And that has what to do with the libraries, SNuss?
    If you have to take away people’s rights to balance a budget, what else will the Governor be willing to do?
    How about safety in the workplace?
    Guess he could bus all the welfare recipents to Ohio and save lots more as well?
    And you pretend to abide by the Constitution but support disallowing the right to organize and have a union that has the right to strike.

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