Illinois is home to the second-highest property taxes in the nation.

Editor Note:

Homer Township Property Tax Referendum

Property owners in the U.S. always had to pay property tax. Today, taxing bodies like the Library, Fire Dept. Township, school, etc. raising their taxes every year make property owners irate by taking too much of their money. Property owners stop paying and leave, try to sell, cut their family budget, dig into their retirement savings, stop maintaining their property, and on and on in an effort to pay the property tax. None of these actions is desired by the property owner who has less money to spend for many reasons especially health care.

It is clear property ownership is symbolic, since if taxes aren’t paid, the government will take it away selling it for back taxes. Therefore whether you rent or own property tax increases will cost you. Family income takes a hit, your budget gets tighter, yet you must find a way to pay. Local government spending plays the most significant role in whether or not your taxes increase or decrease.

Elected members of these Boards run for office on an anti –tax platform but once elected they forget saying the increase is just a tiny one, who will care. The tiny ones from every tax district add up to a lot, compound yearly with the new tax increases. $200 increase every year is more than $1000 in 5 years.

This is why I am  asking property owners to sign a petition to get the question on the ballot for the March 15th 2016 Presidential Primary Election:  Shall each taxing body located partially or wholly within Homer Township be required to seek voter approval by referendum prior to increasing its annual total property tax Levy? Yes or No

Questions or to volunteer to help Steve Balich    sbalich@comcast.net    (815) 557-7196

Illinois is home to the second-highest property taxes in the nation.

And with Chicagoans facing a record-setting property-tax hike come 2016, the Land of Lincoln is likely to leapfrog New Jersey for the No. 1 spot.

Just take the fictional McCallisters’ house in “Home Alone,” which is located in Winnetka, Illinois. The real family living there paid more than $35,700 in property taxes in 2015, according to the Cook County Treasurer’s Office. That’s 2.4% of what the Cook County Assessor’s Office says the house is worth on the market.

And records obtained from the treasurer’s office via a Freedom of Information Act request reveal occupants have paid nearly $750,000 in property taxes on the home since 1990 — that’s close to half the home’s value.

It’s enough to make Illinoisans wonder who the real thief is: Joe Pesci in a ski mask? Or a property-tax system that makes families pay twice for their house?

Susann D. is a retired widow who also calls Cook County home. She says high property taxes have driven her neighbors across state lines. And those who stay get squeezed year after year.

“The property-tax increase is never a kind of earth-shattering amount,” she said, “but people have to make it work by cutting their budgets.”

Illinois Policy Institute research shows property taxes eat up more than 7% of a typical household income in Cook County, with an average tax per household of more than $3,800.

Susann pays $7,000 a year in property taxes on her modest Mount Prospect home, and is disheartened when she looks online at similar properties in other states and finds annual property-tax bills in the hundreds of dollars.

“I do want to leave,” Susann said.

“If I knew where I was going, that ‘For Sale’ sign would be in front of my house. But I have no family or friends anywhere else.

“What do I do? Where do I go?”

Suburban mom Cassandra Bajak thinks her two children will spend one more Christmas at their Crystal Lake, Illinois, home before moving to another state. Her monthly property-tax bill plus insurance is $1,500 a month. Her mortgage is $1,100 a month.

“We’re being taxed out of our home,” she said.

“The only reason we would ever leave our home or this state is property taxes, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Offering relief to homeowners like Susann and Cassandra must begin with a property-tax freeze at the state level, which is currently on the bargaining table in Springfield.

But a freeze isn’t enough. If the state stopped the rise of property-tax bills today, it would take 28 years for the average property-tax burden on Illinois households to fall to 1990 levels.

Aggressive consolidation and resource-sharing across units of local government, limiting the scope of collective bargaining for local-government employees, scrapping the laws mandating inflated wages for work on government projects, and allowing local governments to control unsustainable pension costs by filing bankruptcy are a few major changes necessary to offer relief to beleaguered taxpayers.

After decades of paying more and more money into a broken system, Illinoisans deserve such a gift.


Austin Berg

Writer

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