Morrison plays both sides in property tax freeze debate
Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) is drifting away from a campaign pledge to freeze property taxes.
Morrison told Lake Forest aldermen during a July 2 city council meeting that freezing property taxes is an “attractive” topic for legislators to discuss, but it’s important that residents understand the consequences of those freezes.
“I don’t think our constituents necessarily have all the information that they should have,” Morrison said. “Does it mean losing police officers? Does it mean a project on the docket won’t be renovated?”
That same day Morrison appealed to city council to educate voters on the loss of services a freeze would bring her campaign distributed fliers to Lake Forest residents saying that she “is working to freeze property taxes.”
The Senate approved Senate Resolution 1598 in May, which is non-binding, something Morrison referred to during the city council meeting as a “suggestion” that officials hold public meetings to inform residents about the implications of a property tax in their area.
Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, with Morrison’s district being particularly hard hit.
A 2017 analysis by Local Government Information Services of 43 Lake County communities found that soaring taxes are driving down Lake County property values.
Adjusted for inflation, all 43 saw median prices fall significantly from 2007 to 2015.
The worst: North Chicago (-51 percent), Waukegan (-48 percent), Zion (-46 percent), Round Lake Beach (-45 percent) and Round Lake Park (-44 percent).
The least-worst: Riverwoods (-22 percent), Lake Bluff (-22 percent) and Lake Forest (-23 percent), where the median sale price fell from $1.057 million to $815,000.
Every Lake County community saw its home values fall significantly. Compounding the pain is the fact that property taxes continued rising.
The rise was driven, in large part, by steady increases in local school district spending, which make up 70 percent of a typical property tax bill. While Lake Forest homeowners saw their property values fall 23 percent, Lake Forest’s Rondout School District 72 increased spending by 29 percent over the same period, adjusted for inflation.
Morrison faces Republican Barrett Davie in the 29th District in the November general elections.