WOODSTOCK – McHenry resident Dan R. Aylward, frustrated over his increasing property tax bill, visited the county treasurer’s office and paid the first installment in dollar bills – all $5,734.18 of it.
The 67-year-old arrived Monday morning at the McHenry County Treasurer’s Office, located at 2100 N. Seminary Ave., with a large black suitcase in tow. Standing outside, among a crowd of roughly 20 supporters and county officials with stacks of $1 bills spilling out of his suitcase, Aylward said he plans to do this again when the other half of his property tax bill is due in a few months – giving the county a total of $11,468.36 in $1 bills.
“I will do this every year until my last breath,” he said. “[Raising property taxes] is wrong, it’s evil, and it’s gotta stop.”
The first tax installment was due Monday, and the second is due Sept. 13.
In 2010, his property tax bill was $9,609.36 – an increase of more than $1,800 in five years, according to the county treasurer’s website.
He said the house he currently lives in on the Fox River in McHenry was built in 1911 by his great-uncle. Several generations have lived in the home since it was built, but he likely will be the last because it has become too much to handle financially. His children are unable to live in the home because they are not able to afford it, he said.
“I am either going to be forced to sell it and move out of the state or stay and lose it because of the taxes,” he said.
And Aylward was not the only one at the treasurer’s office feeling the same financial squeeze.
Woodstock resident Don Lemanski said he and his wife have found themselves in the same position as Aylward, and attended the event to show their support. The two have lived in their Woodstock home for the past 15 years.
“It’s difficult to maintain our home,” Lemanski said. “Something’s gotta be done.”
Several county officials and candidates running for office also were present in support of Aylward, including Joe Tirio, candidate for McHenry County recorder; Michael Walkup, county board member and chairman candidate; Steve Reick, GOP nominee for the 63rd District statehouse race; and representatives of state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, among others.
Each official agreed property taxes are too high and that something needs to change so the state does not continue to lose its residents.
Reick said the answer to this problem needs to be taken up by the state legislature.
“By the time you get to this door, it’s already too late,” Reick said.
Walkup said the County Board has worked over the past four years to reduce the county’s portion of the property tax bill. The county currently receives about 10 percent of a resident’s total bill.
“We need to continue to set a good example and shame the local taxing bodies into following that example,” he said. “You need to go to your school board meetings, your city council meetings, your library board meetings.”
Tirio said he plans to eliminate his role as county recorder if elected and merge that role with the county clerk’s office. That is expected to save the county about $125,000 every year, he said.
“It’s not enough to just vote anymore. You need to get involved in your local politics,” Tirio said.
Aylward said he paid 2 cents more than what was owed Monday so he could give local government officials his “two cents.”