Local Editorials

Our View: Taking aim at property taxes

Two local lawmakers are busy filing bills in Springfield aimed at lowering your property taxes.

House Bill 3129, filed by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, imposes the tax cap law on all counties in Illinois, and lowers the maximum annual increase local bodies can collect from 5 percent to 1.75 percent.

The McHenry County Board, among other governments, has kept its levies flat in recent years. Other governments haven’t felt the same sense of fiscal restraint or responsibility to overtaxed taxpayers, and take the maximum rate to which they are entitled each year. It’s irresponsible, and it needs to stop. Franks’ bill is a nice step in that direction.

House Bill 177, filed by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, imposes a freeze on levy increases altogether until fiscal 2019. House Bill 3130, also filed by Franks, makes another attempt at a law forbidding local taxing bodies from collecting any increase if their total assessed valuation decreases from the previous year.

Another McSweeney bill, House Bill 178, seeks a one-year freeze on tax levies for townships with fewer than 100,000 residents located in counties under the tax cap.

On the surface, they’re all worthy bills, and all bills we can support. The property tax burden has long been too high in McHenry County. One Washington, D.C., think tank, The Tax Foundation, ranks McHenry County among the top 30 in highly taxed counties nationwide. Too many local homeowners have seen their property taxes rise while their homes lose value. Any work being done in Springfield to alleviate that is worth it.

Although our confidence these bills will become law is not overwhelming – municipal leaders are a powerful lobby and many legislators got their political start in local government – it’s an effort that deserves mention.

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