Municipal budgets should balance services provided with taxpayers’ ability to pay

Winnebago County’s fiscal year budget, which began October 1, 2014, was approved at the county’s last meeting in September. The budget process, however, doesn’t end with budget approval; the process continues throughout the year. The City of Rockford and the Rockford School District will complete their budget process by the end of the year. The county represents approximately 7.4% of property tax bills, while the city represents 22.0% and the school district is 51.6%. As Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Rockford School District, Rock...

read more

Tax loophole allows property taxes to bypass statutory limits.

The Illinois tax cap law allows taxing districts to collect the same amount of property taxes as the previous year, plus inflation up to 5%, even as property values decline, by allowing the districts to raise their tax rates without referendum. This year, the Rockford School District reached state statutory limits for their Education Fund at $4.00, the Special Education Fund at $0.80, the Operation and Maintenance Fund at $0.75 and an additional $0.15 for Working Cash and Fire & Safety Funds. These statutory limits were reached despite...

read more

Increase in Rockford property tax rate, does not always increase tax levy

Two short years ago, the tax rate in Rockford broke the $12.00 barrier. When Rockford area property owners receive their tax bills early next week, they will be shocked to see the tax rate per hundred dollars of assessed valuation for tax code 001 is now $14.0023. Tax code 001 includes Rockford School District, the City of Rockford, Winnebago County, the Park District, and Rock Valley College, the Rockford Library, Rockford Township, the airport and numerous smaller municipalities. An unintended consequence of the PTELL tax cap law, allows...

read more

Senior Citizen Exemption increased – reduces this year’s property taxes!

Many elderly homeowners are not aware of the property tax exemptions and programs available to Illinois senior citizens. Various programs, including the Senior Citizen Exemption, reduce property taxes for qualified seniors with applications and guidelines available from the Winnebago County Supervisor of Assessments Office. The Senior Citizen property tax exemption has been raised from $4000 to $5000 reducing this year’s property tax bill for taxpayers over 65 years of age. With the Rockford area tax rate approaching $14.00 per hundred of...

read more

Municipal alliances not always advantageous for taxpayers

According to a recent article  in the Rockford Register Star, Rockford is joining with fellow industrial cities, Peoria, Aurora and Danville to form an alliance to lobby state legislators for solutions to common urban problems in the areas of education, poverty, and crime. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis believes there is power in numbers and more could be accomplished with a group of municipalities lobbying Springfield legislators. The coalition could eventually include 10 to 12 cities representing over a million people. However, these cities are...

read more