Thoughts on Taxes

Yes, Property Taxes are High!

There is no question about it, real estate taxes in Illinois including here in Kane County are high!  County government takes a lot of heat about high tax bills, because the county has the responsibility of preparing, mailing, and collecting taxes for all the local taxing bodies that serve the part of the county in which you live.  But, if you receive a Kane County Real Estate Tax bill, look closely and you will see the list of where all the money you are paying goes, and you will see that in comparison to other taxing bodies, the amount that goes to Kane County is very small. The largest part of your tax bill goes to the schools. And that largely is because the State of Illinois doesn’t support local school districts and community college districts as well as many other states do, or even as the Illinois Constitution contemplated they would.  The greater part of the local school district budget is funded by real estate taxes and that makes for high tax bill.

So, what about the portion of your real estate taxes that does go to Kane County?  First, know that Property Taxes provide less than half of the revenue in the Kane County budget; the rest comes from user fees, permits and licenses and grants. The tax rate for Kane County has not increased in over ten years.  What in your life hasn’t gone up in ten years?  To decrease the county portion of your tax bill would not put a dent in the total tax you are required to pay.  However, any decrease in taxes would necessarily cause a decrease in services provided to the county’s residents.  The current board has looked at efficiencies to cut any wasted spending, and if elected, I would encourage that we continue to do that.  But, already we have a higher than usual turnover of staff because we are paying our employees less that other surrounding counties, and less than they might be paid for similar work outside of county government.  Many positions are vacant, some for months, leaving current staff to cover those positions, or in some instances the work doesn’t get done.

The Covid-19 Pandemic put an enormous strain on the County’s Health Department.  Fortunately, the federal government put forth funds to reimburse most of the costs, but the strain on staff was huge, and we need to be prepared at full staffing for an instance like this in the past.  County government continues to be faced by unfunded mandates from the state legislature, another burden on the taxpayer.

So, would I vote to decrease the Kane County portion of your tax bill? No.  I am concerned about working families and individuals, and the burden taxes put on their personal finances.  But, we do need to maintain and improve county highways and bridges, the Kane County Forest Preserve District does need to maintain hundreds of acres of park land and the facilities on that land. Any proposed tax increase would have to be weighed against the benefit of new money, versus the need for essential county services.  A balance needs to be struck between taxes an essential county services.  A. year or so there was talk of increasing the tax on motor fuel (gasoline) and the board decided not to raise the tax at that time.  Today, gasoline prices have skyrocketed, and a new tax on top of the prices being charged by the big oil companies, would be a terrible burden on working people who need to use their cars and trucks to get to work.  Any new tax proposed to the County Board would be something I would look at carefully keeping in mind the needs of the people who are paying those taxes.

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