McCaleb: Inflation rate could be bad news for taxpayers

Watch your wallet.

As detailed in senior reporter Kevin Craver’s A1 story today, we know what the rate of inflation is that governing bodies in Illinois will be able to use to determine how much property tax revenue they can collect.

Can is the key word in that last sentence. Because governing bodies don’t have to collect everything that state law says they can.

The rate of inflation for 2012 taxes payable in 2013 is 3 percent, double what it was for this year. That means school districts, municipalities, townships and other taxing bodies can collect 3 percent more in property tax money next year than they did this year.

For example, say your local school district collected $10 million in property taxes this year (a low figure for most area districts). Next year, they will be able to collect $10.3 million – not including any new construction that comes onto the rolls – if they decide to do so.

You know where that extra $300,000 comes from, right?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the money tree.

Sadly, many school districts and other taxing bodies have continued to increase the burden on taxpayers each year despite stagnant wages, high unemployment, lower home prices and the generally crappy economy.

The inflation rate for bills we’re paying this year is 1.5 percent, which still resulted in significant property tax increases for thousands of McHenry County families. That’s because many taxing bodies grabbed the full amount the law allowed.

If most or all of McHenry County’s governing bodies decide to snatch all that they can next year, it’s not going to be pretty. There might be a full-blown taxpayer revolt.

If you don’t want to see your taxes skyrocket again, I suggest you get in touch with the elected officials who will be making those decisions.

That would be members of your local school board, township board, city council, village board and other taxing bodies with operating boards.

Tell them to do the responsible thing, which most of us have had to do with our personal budgets in recent years – tighten your belts, cut expenses, live within your means.

• • •

Decades in the making: McHenry County Economic Development Corp. President Pam Cumpata emailed Friday to remind me of the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony for the Algonquin Western Bypass of Route 31.

The groundbreaking will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 17 at the Algonquin Public Works building, 110 Meyer Drive. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Congressman Don Manzullo, Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and many other local and state officials will be on hand.

The Algonquin bypass is a $33.3 million project to build a 2.11-mile, four-lane roadway west of downtown Algonquin to alleviate traffic on Routes 31 and 62. It will include a diamond interchange, four bridges, retaining walls and noise abatement walls. It’s scheduled to be completed by 2014.

While the groundbreaking is next week, Algonquin Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Main Street and Meyer Drive beginning Monday. Motorists should be prepared.

Yes, I’m as construction-weary as the next commuter. But look at it this way – in a couple of years, many of the projects we’ve been talking about for years – decades even – will be done. They include the bypass, Rakow Road widening, Route 47 widening, the Route 47 interchange and Route 31 improvements.

• • •

Bikers Against Bullies: Rob Bodenbach from Lake in the Hills emailed me after last week’s column on bullying to let me know about an upcoming event.

The second annual “Bikers Against Bullies” motorcycle ride will be Sept. 16, starting and ending at the Broken Oar Marina Bar and Grille at 614 Rawson Bridge Road in Port Barrington. The fee is $20 a rider, and includes breakfast, one poker hand, a patch and a T-shirt.

First ride out is at 9 a.m., last ride out at 11 a.m. Participants will ride 80 miles through northern Illinois backroads. There will be prizes for the top three poker hands and a 50/50 raffle. After the ride, there will be a deejay and live music.

Proceeds go to the Society for the Preservation of Human Dignity. For information, call 847-359-4967, ext. 19.

• • •

Going paperless: Congratulations to McHenry County Recorder Phyllis Walters and her team for becoming the first recorder’s office in the state of Illinois to image and index all documents electronically.

All McHenry County land records since 1839 (yes, that’s calendar year 1839) on are now filed via computer. This makes searching, viewing and printing the documents a million times more efficient.

Walters and her group will celebrate the occasion with an event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 18 at the recorder’s office.

The celebration will include live re-enactments of President Ulysses S. Grant and volunteers of the 95th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry who served during the Civil War, according to a news release.

• • •

Best Under 40: Check out today’s Business section to learn the names of the McHenry County professionals who are being honored in this year’s Best Under 40 class.

Each year, the Northwest Herald and its affiliated business magazine, Business Journal, seek community nominations for local business and civic professionals under the age of 40 who are making significant contributions to their professions and their communities. This year, we named 15 winners, each of whom will be profiled in October’s edition of Business Journal.

For the first time, we also will recognize these professionals with a dinner and awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Crystal Lake Country Club. Tickets are $60 and can be reserved by cutting out the reservation form on page C8 today and mailing it in, or calling 815-459-4040.

• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @NWHeditor.

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