Many Illinois municipalities will vote on property taxes Nov. 3

Many Illinois municipalities will vote on property taxes Nov. 3

Property taxes are on the ballot in Madison, Winnebago and Champaign counties.

Property taxes in Illinois are the second highest in the nation, in no small part because of Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation public pension crisis.

Though Gov. J.B. Pritkzer commissioned a Property Tax Relief Task Force in 2019 to look at the ways to lessen the property tax burdens on Illinoisans, months of research by the 90 members failed to produce a solution. The group created a draft report at the end of 2019, which received heavy criticism even from its own members. The task force has yet to offer a final report.

Some Illinois municipalities, however, will have the opportunity to vote directly on their property taxes in this upcoming election. Such questions will be on the ballot in Winnebago, Champaign and Madison counties.

Winnebago County

Meridian Community Unified School District 223 in Winnebago and Ogle counties will ask whether to raise the levy to 3.48% of equalized assessed value, or EAV, to raise almost $6.7 million for educational purposes. That is 25% above the 2.78% the rate is otherwise set to be this year.

Also in Winnebago County, the Shirland Township Road District is asking to double its maximum levy to 0.2308% of EAV, amounting to a little over $57,000 total.

Champaign County

Champaign County is posing the questions of whether to raise the levies for the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and for Cunningham Township. The forest preserve district is asking to raise its levy 0.0160% above last year’s levy up to 0.1033% of the EAV. Residents in the forest preserve district can look up how much more they stand to pay on the district’s website.

Cunningham Township is asking to raise its levy 0.0959% above the limiting rate to 0.3015% of EAV. The measure is intended to fund assistance to low-income households in the township.

Madison County

Madison County is asking to lower the maximum property tax rate for residents from 0.20% to 0.18% of the EAV, an 11% decrease in the county’s levy.

The reality is that public pension costs are a large reason that property taxes are so high in Illinois. Until Illinois enacts meaningful pension reform, voters will have to weigh in on local questions such as the ones in Winnebago, Champaign, and Madison counties if they want to have a voice about their property taxes.

Pritzker promised property tax relief to get state lawmakers to place his “fair tax” on the Nov. 3 ballot, and created the task force to that end. He spent $56.5 million to persuade voters of a progressive income tax’s merits, including claiming it provided property tax relief.

But there is no relationship between higher state income taxes and lower property taxes, an Illinois Policy Institute study showed. And Illinois has higher property taxes than all seven states that collect no income taxes.

Illinois offers same-day registration, meaning those wanting to vote can go to their polling place, register to vote with a photo ID and proof of current address such as a utility bill. If homeowners want property tax relief, they may want to start by halting Pritzker’s $3 billion income tax hike at the ballot box.

Then state lawmakers can get to the business of pension reform, the costs driving high property taxes to begin with.

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