* Daily Herald…
Elgin schools officials say they are disappointed unit districts that applied for a portion of $50 million in property tax relief grants from the state this year were sidelined due to the criteria used for calculating eligibility.
Elgin Area School District U-46 sought roughly $43 million — the maximum for which it was eligible — for fiscal year 2019.
Tax relief grants are a provision of the state’s new evidence-based school funding law. A school district’s eligibility is based on whether it has the highest unit equivalent tax rate compared to all the districts that applied. Approved districts must agree to abate a portion of taxes in the coming tax year.
“The way the state evaluated which districts were eligible really favored high school districts,” school board member Sue Kerr said during Monday night’s school board meeting. “Not a single unit district in the state received any property tax relief, and I believe 75 percent of the schools that got it were high school districts. It’s a problem.”
Those grants are a paltry sum in comparison to the actual need. A good explainer about the state law is here.
* Capitol News Illinois…
“I’m from Metropolis, right across the river from Paducah, Kentucky,” [Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis] said. “Young families are just picking up and moving to Paducah because they pay less in property taxes. They feel like they have more opportunity, better life quality, and it’s causing a huge problem in Southern Illinois. People are leaving and they’re not coming back.”
And yet, this is one of the first bills he introduced…
Amends the Property Tax Code. Provides that the homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities carries over to the benefit of the veteran’s surviving spouse if the veteran resided outside of the State but otherwise qualified for the exemption at the time of his or her death and the surviving spouse relocates to Illinois after the death of the veteran.
No disrespect for out-of-state surviving spouses of veterans, but if you want to help young families with their property taxes, the first thing to do is stop narrowing the property tax base. Somebody always has to pick up the tab.
State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has introduced legislation to provide Illinois residents with some much-needed property tax relief.
“We have to do more than just stop property taxes from increasing– we must find ways to lower the property tax burden in Illinois,” McSweeney said. “To that end, I have filed a measure to reduce all property tax levies by 10 percent.”
House Bill 320 reduces property tax levies by 10% total (5% each year for two years) for all local governments, even home rule units of government. The net effect of the measure will be a permanent 10% reduction in property taxes in Illinois in the next two years. Property taxes would be permanently frozen after the 10% reduction and could only be raised if local voters approve an increase by referendum.
According to the most recent data available, Illinois has the second highest property tax rates in the country.
“We know property taxes in Illinois are too high,” McSweeney said. “We know that people are leaving Illinois in droves in large part because the taxes are too high. Illinois lost nearly 45,000 people net last year alone. The longer we delay action on solving the property tax issue in Illinois, the more people are going to leave. We need to reverse this out-migration. It is time to lower property taxes permanently in Illinois.”
House Bill 320 has been introduced and awaits assignment to a House Committee.
Property taxes are a very real problem here. But ordering locals to lower their levies by 10 percent and then freezing them in place forever doesn’t seem like a doable idea without some sort of state help, particularly for schools.