ROCKFORD — Mayor Tom McNamara has joined leaders from across Winnebago County and mayors from large cities across Illinois to urge Gov. JB Prtizker not to consider reducing municipal shares of state income taxes.
When residents pay income taxes, a percentage of those taxes is returned to cities across the state. With Illinois facing a projected $3.9 billion deficit following the defeat of the proposed "fair tax," Prizker is considering more than $711 million in cuts that could touch human services, health care, public safety, economic development, agriculture and other areas of the budget.
Municipal leaders are worried because cutbacks in the percentage of income taxes shared with city governments is a past favorite on the chopping block when the state faces a fiscal crisis, McNamara said.
McNamara argues it is "our resident’s money" that is being threatened.
"When the state hits the easy button by stealing local government’s money/resident’s money, especially since all municipalities already created our budgets, on time and balanced, this leaves municipalities across the state with few options," McNamara said in an email to Register Star.
Pritzker’s press office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
McNamara said that the share of income taxes from what is called the Local Government Distributive Fund have helped Rockford hold the line on property taxes without an increase for seven years.
It is critical funding source for cities like Loves Park, Machesney Park and Cherry Valley because they operate without levying a property tax at all, Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury said.
"Other local municipalities have that cushion, but for us not to have that, it’s very critical in our budgeting especially when we are already going through a terrible year with the governor not allowing a lot of our businesses to be open and the restrictions," Jury said.
Reductions in revenue could force Rockford and other cities across the state and region to consider cuts to core services like policing and snow plowing. It could also force them to consider implementing a property tax increase, McNamara said.
In their letter to the governor, the leaders wrote:
"After years of difficult cuts, tax and fee expansions, our municipalities have been fiscally responsible in achieving balanced budgets in lean times. Nearly all of us projected deficits for 2021 even before COVID and the related economic downturn occurred. Now, the forecast is even more challenging and reducing LGDF will certainly result in loss of jobs and critical services provided to our communities."
Winnebago County Board Chairman Joseph Chiarelli said the letters are an impressive display of unity across the region.
"Every part of the county would be affected by this," Chiarelli said. "We need to make sure our state legislators are fully activated to fight on our behalf.
Read the letter
via Rockford Register Star
January 5, 2021 at 04:16PM