Inmate lockdown lawsuits influence sheriff’s budget dispute

The number of lawsuits filed by the inmates against Winnebago County Sheriff Caruana currently stand at twenty-one with undoubtedly more on the way. This is the inmate’s response to an unanticipated upsurge in the number of lockdown hours triggered by the sheriff in the months immediately following the layoff of 10 correction officers. The lawsuits are identical except for the name of the inmate, suggesting an organized campaign to reduce the lockdowns. How did the county get into this position? First, county spending has exceeded revenues....

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Increased property tax exemptions shifts tax burden without relief

On April 6, 2017, the Illinois House passed HB0156 by an overwhelming vote of 108 to 1 expecting to provide much needed property tax relief in state counties by increasing the value of numerous property tax exemptions. Basically, the two most substantial exemptions approved would increase the exemption for seniors over the age of 65 to $6000 annually from the current $5000 and the General Homestead/Owner Occupied exemption to $8000 from the current $6000. Other exemptions increased in the bill would have much less impact on taxing districts...

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Rockford property tax rate decreases for first time in ten years

Rockford property tax bills, which are scheduled to be mailed to taxpayers this Tuesday, May 2, 2017, will show a slight decrease in the tax rate for the first time in 10 years, due to an increase in the overall Winnebago County property values. The total Winnebago County Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) increased by over $54M dollars over the previous year’s EAV of $4.227B dollars. The first installment of the 2016 property taxes is due June 2, 2017 with the second installment due on September 1, 2017. The last time the property tax rate...

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Winnebago county-wide officials bypass county board budget statutes

In last month’s article, “Local taxpayers affected by unfunded state mandates,” it was determined to be a challenge for local taxing districts to balance their budget with additional expenditures being continuously imposed upon them from Springfield. It is no less challenging having some of our county-wide independently elected officials and department heads adding additional taxpayer dollars to their departmental budget allocations, while bypassing county board approval, which is required by state law. This year, Winnebago County faces a...

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Local taxpayers affected by unfunded state mandates

It’s challenging for a local taxing body to balance their budget without additional unfunded state mandates being imposed on them from Springfield, whether it’s the Illinois Supreme Court in the first example below or the general assembly in the second example, which hasn’t balanced a budget in over a decade. Effective November 1, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court amended its Rule 941concerning the “Use of Restraints on a Minor in all juvenile delinquency proceedings arising under the Juvenile Court Act” of 1987. This ruling mandates that...

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EAV Fluctuation has little effect on property taxes under Tax Caps

Most people in Rockford and around the state believe that when property values increase in a taxing district due to a real estate market turnaround, Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts expiring or new construction, the tax base increases and the net result will be lower property taxes in that district. It doesn’t work that way under current Illinois property tax laws. Taxes do not decrease simply because the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) increases in a given tax district since Winnebago County is subject to the Illinois Property Tax...

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