Illinois' General Assembly, which had finally approved a budget but failed to act on an amendment regarding property tax freezes, should take a harder look at itself, Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said during a recent interview.
"What is ridiculous is the General Assembly that hasn't had the ability to deliver a balanced budget in years and refuses to address the public pension debacle that is a large contributor to the tax burden are the ones pointing to other entities as the problem," McLaughlin told the Lake County Gazette.
McLaughlin said he has some experience doing what lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly need to be doing. "As a village president that has reduced our Barrington Hills levy four out of my five years in office I am all for a freeze," he said.
Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin
"However I would prefer a 15 percent reduction from all taxing bodies that make up our property tax bills – school districts, townships, community colleges, library districts, fire districts, abatement districts and others," he said. " Elected and appointed officials need to understand that Illinois taxpayers are in serious trouble. We are declining in population as people give up and move out of our state."
In most instances, Illinois probably doesn't need township governments, McLaughlin said. "Their services could be absorbed by the municipalities," he said.
McLaughlin, an investment manager who was chairman and vice chairman of the Barrington Area Council of Governments in 2015 and 2016, was re-elected in April to a second term as Barrington Hills village president, defeating challenger Louis Iacovelli.
Starting in late October, a series of amendments were added to Senate Bill 851, including an amendment that would implement a two-year property tax freeze for Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties while other counties in the state would be left to freeze property taxes via voter referendum.
"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," Bryan Smith, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, said in a legislative alert.
"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," the alert said.
The amendment was approved by the House, but was not brought up for a vote in the Senate before the veto session ended.
While that amendment did not pass, voters need to take note of their taxation situation and who is it they are sending to Springfield, McLaughlin said. "Voters need to wake up and stop electing the same old ‘do nothing’ lobbyists and professional politicians," he said.
"The dirtier the game becomes to get elected, the more qualified decent candidates with actual private marketplace experience will avoid entering the political arena. Only those who want the jobs too much or need the jobs will apply and they will be controlled, beholden and manipulated by those who control the political donation purse strings on both sides," he said.