SPRINGFIELD – A one-year freeze on township tax levies has cleared the Illinois House.
House Bill 5311, sponsored by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, passed Thursday on a 66-43 vote. The bill, now headed to the Senate, seeks a 2015 freeze of the general fund levy for townships with fewer than 100,000 people and are subject to the tax cap. All 17 of McHenry County's townships fall into that category.
The bill does not freeze township levies for roads or general assistance.
McSweeney said he is pleased that the bill to help "address the outrageous increases in property tax bills throughout Illinois" cleared the House.
"With Democrats focused on raising income taxes, every bit of tax relief we can provide is crucial. There's a repeated assault happening on the Illinois taxpayer. We're fighting this war on all fronts, and these victories are rare, but imperative."
McSweeney referred to the push by Gov. Pat Quinn and leading House and Senate Democrats to make the temporary 67 percent income tax increase that is scheduled to start expiring Jan. 1 permanent. In exchange, Quinn in his budget address last month proposed giving every Illinois homeowner an annual $500 property tax rebate.
Voting yes among local House members were Reps. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, and Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who also was the bill's chief co-sponsor. Members Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, and Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia, were absent for the vote.
The bill passed over the objections of the lobbying group Township Officials of Illinois.
Legislators seeking the easing of the property tax burden have had to resort to passing smaller-scale bills because large-scale overhauls have stalled. Northwest Herald stories have revealed that local government lobbying groups whose dues are paid by your property taxes have fought tax relief measures.
Many of these bills have been prompted by taxpayer outrage over the fact that their property bills have stayed the same or in many cases increased despite their home values plummeting in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble.
You can read a copy of House Bill 5311 at www.ilga.gov.