Cantrell Village President Ted Stead said he tends to agree with a township officials organization in opposing a proposal made during the fall veto session in Springfield that would freeze property taxes for two years.
“Apparently the Illinois Senate adjourned without voting on the property tax freeze, so nothing will be changing for now,” Stead told the Sangamon Sun.
Speaking to the issue of local governments rejecting the attempt at a property tax freeze coming out of Springfield, Stead said the issue for some local officials is that they might want stronger and more durable efforts at reform.
“As far as local governments opposing the freeze, I would tend to agree with them,” Stead said. “We have some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and I would love to see them lower. However, we need true tax reform, not just cuts and freezes. Wisconsin and Michigan have frozen property taxes in the past, but raised sales or income taxes to compensate. In doing this, they still had funding for important services, that would otherwise been cut.”
Stead added that municipal governments below the state level have an important role to play in the process, and that their input is vital.
“I do feel that local governments are important,” Stead said. “I live in a village of 150 people, and I feel that a village of our size would never get anything done if we had to rely on the county or state for everything.”
Stead believes that the state should listen to the municipalities and take their opposition to the freeze into account.
“We are their constituents,” Stead said.
During the fall veto session in Springfield, lawmakers discussed Senate Bill 851, which would establish a two-year property tax freeze for Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties. The measure would allow those counties to increase property taxes only with voter approval.
All other counties would be subject to referendums asking whether a property tax freeze should be imposed for 2018 and 2019 or that all governments within a county jurisdiction be subject to a property tax freeze over that period and to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for levy year 2020 and the foreseeable future.
Bryan Smith, the executive director of the Township Officials of Illinois, had sent a legislative alert to township officials about SB851, asking them to urge their state lawmakers to oppose the measure.
The legislation was not brought up for a vote in the Senate before the veto session ended.
“I truly hope that our lawmakers can pass laws that will reform our taxes, and get us out of this severe economic hole we have fallen into,” Stead said. “We need to attract more residents and businesses, so the tax burden does not continue to grow on those of us who remain."