DeKalb alderman calls opposition to property tax freeze 'nonsense'
As a proposal to freeze property taxes in Illinois sits in limbo after the state Senate refused to consider it before the veto session ended, opponents are not shy about criticizing the bill.
SB851, sponsored by Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg), would freeze taxes for two years in Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties, according to a memo from Township Officials of Illinois Executive Director Bryan Smith, whose group opposes the measure.
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.
A report from Chicago’s CBS affiliate said some Republicans had characterized the bill as “pandering” in the wake of a 32 percent hike in the state income tax the legislature approved earlier this year. And Illinois households pay more than $8,000 annually in state and local taxes, ranking them No. 1 in the nation in terms of tax burden, according to IllinoisPolicy.org.
The problem is far deeper than political expediency, according to DeKalb 6th Ward Alderman Mike Verbic, who says the township structure should be dissolved.
In an interview with the DeKalb Times, Verbic said it was “nonsense” to oppose the property tax freeze and said the state doesn’t need townships that need to be financed through property taxes in the first place.
“Townships are largely unsustainable,” Verbic said. They “take control away from the taxpayer.”
A story in the Peoria Journal-Star quoted Gov. Bruce Rauner as selling a property tax freeze to constituents last summer. He was quoted in the story as saying, “I hear relentlessly about how difficult it is to raise a family, to make ends meet, how difficult it is to build a business in the state of Illinois with the property tax burden we’ve got.”
Although the governor might be able to score some points with voters by championing a property tax freeze, some officials say it would rob citizens of basic services.
“All property owners want property taxes lower,” said Mary Wroblewski, supervisor of Schaumburg Township in Cook County said. “Property taxes pay for schools, park districts, libraries and townships. These same property owners also want all these groups to be strong, so there needs to be a balance.”