Far and away the issue that constituents raise most frequently in conversations is the high rate of property taxes. Illinoisans pay high property taxes relative to the rest of the country- second only to New Jersey. I find the people are frustrated not only by the sticker shock of the cost, but by how complex the calculation is and the difficulty in drawing a direct line from a home’s assessed value and amount of the bill.
There are several reasons property taxes are so high. Schools make up the large majority of property tax bills and inadequate state support for education is a major driver of property tax growth. I’m happy that in the Fiscal Year 2017 spending plan passed by the General Assembly, we passed a full-year of funding for schools, ensuring that no district receives less state funding than it did last year.
I believe there ways to lower property taxes. Aside from the state providing more resources for schools, I strongly support efforts to make property tax calculation more transparent and to modernize the process by which assessments are conducted. I’ve worked to bring more transparency and oversight to local government finances and I support appropriate efforts to consolidate units of local government and encouraging overlapping or adjacent districts to engage in cost-saving collaboration efforts. Our part of Illinois is a leader in many of these areas.
The number of different units of government gives rise to another comment I hear frequently. People often don’t know who serves on the boards of the units of local government and feel disconnected from these entities, despite that fact that they provide some of the most visible and frequently utilized government services.
Cook County Clerk David Orr’s website has a useful tool to address this issue. The Directory of Elected Officials enables you to search by address to find names and contact information for your elected officials- from President of the United States to township trustee. Links to district websites can provide you with schedules for board meetings and budget documents and phone numbers allow you to contact officials directly.
But following and commenting on debate in Springfield and engaging with local officials doesn’t help if you’re having issues with your assessment in this current tax year. That’s why staff from my office will be joining with State Rep. Carol Senate to host a Property Tax Appeal Workshop with staff from Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’ office. It will be held this upcoming Thursday, July 28 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Wheeling Park District Community Recreation Center, 33 W Dundee Rd, in Wheeling. They’ll be in Room 203. I hope you can make it. If not, please contact our office at (847) 229-5499 and we’ll work to connect you with the resources you need.
Thank you as always for the opportunity to serve you.
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