DuPage County voters face ballot question on statewide property tax hike

DuPage County voters face ballot question on statewide property tax hike

Three economists made headlines in May by suggesting Illinois levy a new, statewide property tax. DuPage County voters Nov. 6 can declare their stance on whether that tax should be an option.

DuPage County’s general election ballots Nov. 6 will seek voters’ opinions on whether the county should oppose efforts to levy a statewide 1 percent property tax.

According to the county, the referendum question reads, “Shall DuPage County oppose the General Assembly instituting a property tax increase equivalent to 1% of your home’s value to help retire state debt?”

The DuPage County board voted unanimously in August to approve the nonbinding referendum.

Lawmakers have not proposed a statewide property tax, but some prominent voices have advanced the idea. In May, three economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released a report suggesting Illinois adopt a new, 1 percent residential property tax to help pay down the state’s pension debt. That tax would come on top of the local property taxes Illinoisans now pay.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin cited the Chicago Fed’s suggestion as the impetus for the referendum. “I’m very much opposed to it, but I want to give the voters a chance to weigh in on it,” Cronin said, according to the Naperville Sun.

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation found the additional 1 percent property tax would deliver Illinoisans the . Currently, the Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index ranks Illinois 45th on its 50-state property tax scale.

According to the Chicago Fed economists, however, Illinois has few choices to shrink its massive pension debt. In fact, the economists said a statewide property tax hike would be the state’s “best option.” Debt estimates for Illinois’ five state-administered pension funds range between $130 billion and around $250 billion.

DuPage County’s 1 percent property tax referendum will be one of two tax-related questions voters will face: The ballot will also include a referendum asking whether the county should oppose a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax. A third referendum will ask voters whether the county should continue to consolidate local government units “to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and increase accountability.”

In March, DuPage County residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nonbinding referendum asking whether to consolidate a rare unit of government – the DuPage County Election Commission – with the DuPage County Clerk’s office. Gov. Bruce Rauner gave the green light to the county to consolidate those government units in August.

Illinoisans will cast their general election ballots Nov. 6.

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