* The Daily Herald writes about how the state’s ultra-exclusive golf country clubs are working the system for huge property tax breaks…
(I)f Medinah officials have their way, those schools and other local government entities will have to give back nearly $1 million to golf course operators, who say Medinah’s tax assessment was far too high for the past three years.
It would also shift that tax burden onto the private golf course’s mostly residential neighbors in the future.
In 2013, the country club’s property tax bill amounted to $391,554, according to assessment records from Bloomingdale Township. If the appeal is successful, the tax bill could shrink to $84,257, a 78.5 percent decrease. […]
Medinah officials are basing their appeal on the state’s disputed definition of “open space.” State law allows golf courses to be classified as open space for assessment purposes. Township assessors, county boards of review and the state’s Property Tax Appeal Board have always maintained that the open space designation only applies to golf course land that is either undeveloped or used for actual golfing.
Lawyers for the Onwentsia Golf Club in Lake Forest challenged that definition in 2006 and argued that land with buildings, parking lots and additional improvements helped conserve all the other open space and should be considered open space by proxy.
Legislation is now moving to address this. I doubt Medinah is gonna get its full break.
New regulations governing petcoke, as currently written, don’t appear to have the votes to get out of the Illinois House Environment Committee, according to vote counters on both sides of the issue.
Although Friday is the deadline for bills to get out of committee, in Springfield there are always ways to get around the rules. But there isn’t a way to get around a shortage of committee votes.
The legislation is being pushed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and has 40 listed co-sponsors. It would require minimum setbacks for coal and petcoke facilities; set limits on dust; regulate storage, loading and unloading; require new permits; and require monitoring and testing. The bill is separate from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to draw up new rules on petcoke storage. The IEPA has been talking to members of the industry, both refiners and bulk operators, and to the environmental community. Environmentalists say new rules are needed, while industry calls the whole effort a solution in search of a problem.
Even if this bill as written doesn’t get out of committee, a bill with new language that resolves legislators’ concerns could be placed on a shell bill, circumventing the Friday deadline.
I spoke to a gathering of the Illinois Petroleum Council this week. They claim there has been just one reported problem with petcoke storage in Illinois. Whether that’s true or not, it’s a talking point that they’ve been relentlessly hammering home with legislators. One problem shouldn’t result in a major regulatory bill. Again, you may disagree with that, but it’s the argument they’re using and it appears to be successful so far.
A proposal that would allow truck stops to have twice as many video gaming machines as other establishments is moving through the Illinois Legislature.
A Senate committee on Tuesday approved the measure with a 9-2 vote. It would allow truck stops to have ten video gaming terminals. Currently, establishments with video gaming can operate five machines.
State Sen. Dave Syverson is sponsoring the proposal. He says it will create more revenue from truckers who are often from out of state. The Republican from Rockford says it wouldn’t affect other gaming businesses because truckers already don’t leave truck stops to gamble.
Before legalization and regulation, some truck stops had dozens of poker machines. They were like mini casinos.
* Here’s an interesting piece of legislation…
A plan to let Rosemont and three other Illinois cities apply their local cigarette taxes to cigars and other forms of tobacco won initial approval in the state Senate Wednesday.
The legislation from state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, would apply to Rosemont, Chicago, Evanston and Cicero, the four towns in Illinois that have local taxes.
The Rosemont tax, which is 5 cents per pack on top of state and federal cigarette taxes, will not be increased or decreased under Kotowski’s proposal. But it would be applied to other forms of tobacco based on weight.
Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno asked before voting against it: “If it’s good for these four communities, wouldn’t it be good for the rest of the state?”
* Other stuff…
* Ride-sharing crackdown advances in House: Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, said those steps contained in Zalewski’s legislation limited new upstart competitors to the taxicab industry too severely. “I voted against this bill because it unfairly locks out competing companies and limits choices for consumers,” Morrison said. Candice Taylor, a Lyft representative who testified before the committee, said the bill’s “burdensome” requirements would mean “the end of companies like Lyft and Uber in Illinois.”
* Bill at Statehouse would allow early release for older inmates
* Illinois gun ranges busy, trying to meet demand
* Illinois set to put major limits on charter schools.
* Unes Opposes bill to Assess ISBE Takeover of IHSA