Politicians need to give homeowners power to freeze taxes, Senate candidate says
Township government in Illinois should support an amendment to an existing bill that would allow taxpayers to implement property tax freezes via referendum, McHenry County Board member Craig Wilcox told the Lake County Gazette recently.
"Every politician who works for the taxpayer should support a property tax freeze," Wilcox, who is running for the state Senate from District 32, said. "Many of the strong taxpayer advocates, like myself, actually support going one step further, advocating for a property tax cap of 1 percent of home value."
State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) announced after winning her fourth term in the 2016 election that she would not seek a fifth term.
The amendment to Senate Bill 851 would implement a two-year property tax freeze for Cook and the collar counties of Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will. Counties in the rest of the state would be left to freeze property taxes via voter referendum.
"Taxpayers need relief, and a property tax cap would force local governments to govern within the means of fair and sustainable tax rates that don't rob homeowners of their equity and strip away the American dream of homeownership," Wilcox said.
Bryan Smith, the executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, has issued a legislative alert regarding the proposed change, warning local governments that the tax freeze could be devastating.
"This would mean for those townships/road districts in those counties, this year and next year your extension limitation would be zero percent unless voters approve an increase," he wrote. "In all other counties outside of Cook and the Collar Counties, the amendment, if passed, would allow a county board to place a referendum on the ballot in 2018 to have a property tax freeze for all local governments within that county for 2018 and 2019; or whether to have all local governments within the county subject to a property tax freeze for 2018 and 2019 AND then subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) for levy year 2020 and thereafter."
Wilcox could see the attack coming, he said.
"It does not surprise anyone that local governments who rely on property taxes would oppose a property tax freeze," he said, adding that local governments "are in business to perpetuate their control and expand their influence."
"Elected officials who oppose property tax freezes, tax reform or a tax cap are the enemy of today’s homeowners," Wilcox said. "We have seen a movement towards giving voters the choice to dictate changes through the ballot box, and that momentum needs to continue. It is time for lawmakers to give voters the tools to dismantle ineffective and duplicative forms of government."
The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee recently recommended approval of the amendment. It could be put to a vote in both chambers soon.