Patch Poll: Reduce Property Tax Levies by 20 Percent?

If you had to vote today, what would you say about the non-binding referendum urging all taxing bodies to reduce their levies?

Shall every levy of every governing body within the County of Kendall, Illinois be reduced 20% over the previous year’s levy?

That might be an easy "yes" for you. Who enjoys paying property taxes?

The premise of the question is thoughtful, though.

A grassroot group called the Kendall County Property Tax Revolt on the November ballot. Elected officials won't be required to do anything based on the outcome of the referendum, but group leaders are hoping it sends a message to trim the non-essentials and provide Kendall County property owners some tax relief.

The levy process itself can be a little hard to understand. The "levy" is essentially the amount of money a government body - say, a city - requests in property taxes. Of course, the city gets money from the state and federal government, from sales taxes, from user fees and a variety of other sources, so asking city leaders to reduce their levies by 20 percent is not asking them to slash their budgets by 20 percent. Some taxing bodies are more reliant on property taxes than others.

That can lead to a circular argument among government leaders: Some city or county leaders would say, "If you want to reduce your property taxes, talk to school leaders. That's the biggest portion of your property tax bill." But then school leaders will point out that a significant part of their funding is property taxes and another significant portion (state funding) has been unreliable in recent history.

So where does that leave you, the average taxpayer? I think it's left the folks at the Kendall County Property Tax Revolt determined to remind public officials that it is their job to look out for the taxpayer, not to pass the buck to other taxing bodies.

I'm curious about what you think, though. How would you vote on this referendum?


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gater August 07, 2012 at 01:47 PM
we need to at least try .ask for 20 if you get 10 then it is a start . why did kendall county give yorkville 500 k to finish a city bridge then want to buy a rec center? if you didnt have money for the bridge then where did the money for the rec center come from.perfect example if you cant afford it live with out.
Henry T August 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Also using Washington, MN 275,000 for sale http://www.homes.com/listing/154486989/6314_Peacan_Avenue_N_OAK_PARK_HEIGHTS_MN_55082 $258 a month or $3,431.52 a year.... Also MN has a top income tax rate of 7.95% but it pays to be married so to speak http://www.tax-rates.org/resources/MinnesotaIncomeTax.pdf
cindy August 07, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Maybe the next article can request readers to suggest real ideas as to where money can be cut. Let's take an honest look at this. There are two extremes points of view that should not be considered: 1. Cut everything and disregard the possible consequences and 2. Sit back and do nothing. Both of these options are not good ones. However, is it possible that most rationale people believe that 1. It is likely that In one of the highest taxed counties in the nation, there is probably room for some cuts in spending and 2. If we sit back and do nothing there is a good possibility that we will be taxing people out of their homes? Can we come together, business owners and government employees and look at solutions that work? Can anyone really be opposed to that?
Dave Ruggles August 07, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Great idea. I agree that cuts need to be examined and the examples cited of waste definitely need to be addressed. That is a positive and productive approach which will reduce overall expenditures.
Tim August 07, 2012 at 02:24 PM
It's called 'gentrification', and its happening to you. Voting on it, or talking about it isnt going to change a single thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification Personally, I am enjoying the irony of seeing those who were trying to prevent affordable housing from coming in to the county, and yet at the same time complaining that their taxes are too high. They were warned that one day, they would be treated just like they were treating others. Deciding if someone should live in your town based on nothing but their income, is coming back to bite them when THEY are the ones on the receiving end of that treatment. You didn't care about treating others that way, what makes you think anyone cares that you are now getting treated that same way? The sad part, is they did it to themselves.
Paul L. August 07, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Perhaps a look to zero based budgeting instead of the traditional incremental budgeting. I use this for my home budgeting and it does force one to look at the details more instead of using last years budget and work upwards from there. Just how many budgets are reduced over last years? As far as levy's, EAV's and such...this has always caused more confusion to the average tax payer. Generally speaking if the EAV goes down, the tax rate must go up to compensate for the loss. The one area that really helps is new construction, but look around...there's practically none. "Do you not understand that the majority of residents actually voted for these expenditures?" Tim, in this regards, you're right...the majority of voters who actually voted. Especially in regards to D308. The tax rate was kept artifically low until the district couldn't sustain it, now that's been lifted, you can see the results. Since those living in 308 pay close to 70% of their tax bill to them, this is the only taxing body that can really make an impact. I hate making a generalized statement but most people don't care about how much goverment works, spends or does until it's usually after the fact. (let it be needs of the fire, police, school or courts.) I'm neutral right now as I'm still educating myself, although as I stated above, just what would a flat 20% reduction do and that's what I'd like to see.
Kevin Wagner August 07, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Wikipedia won't fly as a rerference on a high school term paper. It is the couch potato's reference of choice.
russ harrison August 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
An immediate reduction of 20% is impractical and unrealistic. However, a phased and controlled reduction of 20% over a period of several years (3-5) is a realistic endeavour. That allows time to adapt to payroll decreases, expense reductions, and absorption of the dynamics of a shrinking economy. What can be done immediately is to halt tax increases and "freeze in place" major capital expenditures. It's going to be painful, but then again so is removal of an infected cyst. But, like the cyst, the longer we wait to take the pain, the higher the chance for increased damage.
Tim August 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Yes, because the definitions of words change based on where the site describing them is located; http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gentrification Just because you can not(will not) accept reality, does not change that reality.
Tim August 07, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Did you ever consider that maybe people WANT you lower income types to not be able to afford it and have to move out?
john August 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM
tim taxes are so high even for you wealthy people that oswego is looked over so how do us poor people move out?
TLC Carpet Floors and More, Inc. August 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Leave the police and fire as is. WHY? They to good to pull in there belt a little. 5% is better than nothing. You dont think they piss away money ? Everything they do is needed? Get over this attitude that some departments can not be touched. ALL departments need to give in.
Greg O'Neil August 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I think you better re-check your numbers Henry T. The assessed value of property in Tennessee is 25% of the actual or appraised value of residential property. So your numbers are only 400% too high it seems, And what exactly was the point you were trying to make? 345,000 * .25 = 86,250. 86,250/100 = 862.50 * .0231 = 1,992.38 annual property tax bill. In Kendall County, that same house would be 345,000/3 = 115,000. 115,000 * .1052284 (little rock township rates 2012) 12,101.27 annual tax bill. I am going to assume that both states allow an owner occupied exemption so thats a wash. So yes, you are wrong, only off by about ten grand. There are many of the other naysayers with false ID's who love to whip off web links from Wikipedia and the like but really don't have a clue what they're talking about, you all know who you are, please keep it coming, you are our best defense.
Greg O'Neil August 07, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Thank you Kevin, don't waste your time responding the the naysayers, they are just babbling away hoping someone will listen to their nonsense.
Greg O'Neil August 07, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Russ, If we were able to get these agencies to roll out a phased plan as you described I think we would be satisfied. Some could do this faster than others, but I agree with your premise for some "essential service providers".
Katra Knoernschild August 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Actually John, School District 308 is a 68.8 sq mile district comprised primarily of: Oswego, Plainfield, Montgomery, Aurora & Joliet. This school year D308 will service 17,500+ students, up 500 over last year. As Oswego's population grew over this time, so did the areas within the District Service area. D308 is the 9th largest in the state. Prior to 2001, we had something like 6 or 7 buildings, and today we have 22 in the towns named, except Joliet. Several have undergone renovations handle our growth, including our High Schools currently under expansion. And to shift focus on general growth and infrastructure for Oswego alone. 20 years ago, this village was home to less than 4,000 people. 10 years ago, a little over 13K people. Today, over 30K people reside here, and though our growth has slowed considerably and values have reset, we are still growing, particularly in the eastern corridor. As a frequent attendee at School Board meetings, I will agree that there is always room for improvement. Of late, our board alone can be held accountable to some of those budgetary mistakes. However, a generalized 20% cut at this time would be detrimental our school district. What is lacking in our area is Industrial growth, commerce - economic development. Until we take a realistic approach to this, we will not find a long term solution to our tax situation.
texson68 August 07, 2012 at 06:29 PM
On its face lower taxes are a good idea as long as we accept the premise, less money for government equals less service
Greg O'Neil August 07, 2012 at 06:45 PM
excuse me, the multiplier is 2.31 but the answer is the same.
Henry T August 07, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Ok, even if it is 25% like you say... How do you explain the numbers from the real estate listings... For sale for $249,900 http://www.homes.com/listing/131878260/2377_Fairview_Blvd._FAIRVIEW_TN_37062 Monthly Property Tax: $585.18 * 12 = 7,022.16 For sale 363,000 http://www.homes.com/listing/168872472/1409_Sarah_Anne_Ct_FRANKLIN_TN_37064 Monthly Property Tax: $677.60 * 12 = 8,131.20 I am just taking the monthly property tax number and multiplying by 12, logical IMHO.. For a house that is selling for $249,000 it has a property tax bill of $7,022.16 not anywhere close to $1,838, so even assuming the house is discounted $90,000 it is still over 3 times the number sited in the example... Are the real estate people showing the property taxes as too high? What advantage would you get from that trying to sell a home? Feel free to follow the links yourself, heck look up more properties... I didn't realize looking up some data is trying to make a point, but if it is, I guess the point I am trying to make is look at these numbers yourself. Go look at the school budgets, the municipal budgets, how much of their revenues come from where. Those are questions I think people should be asking as well... So if I were to say, well on average a Kendall County home owner pays 15,000 a year in property taxes you would just buy that? Come on people, do some research. It isn't hard.
Henry T August 07, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Well here is a question I think would be a lovely starting point for discusion at some point... What government service do you or your family use that you would want to see spending on cut 20% and what would you want cut. So you can't say, put 60 kids in a classroom unless you have kids in school... So what do you do? Heck I will even start. I would double the fee for ambulance service.
Henry T August 07, 2012 at 07:27 PM
So just to be clear, it appears I wasn't the tax bill numbers I reference come directly from real estate listings So if you go to For sale for $249,900 http://www.homes.com/listing/131878260/2377_Fairview_Blvd._FAIRVIEW_TN_37062 You will see a monthly property tax line in the property description (below it actually along with other data about the property) Monthly Property Tax: $585.18 So I take that number and multiply it by 12 Monthly Property Tax: $585.18 * 12 = $7,022.16 So unless the real estate listings are wrong (feel free to browse them)... Those are the property tax bills for those homes, taken directly from real estate listings, no math on my part besides multiplying by 12
Stephen Youhanaie August 07, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Dave, that's up to Mr. Dabney to find out where to cut. But I have a suggestion; I've seen where DeKalb County only has 50 hours of man hours in the office that are scheduled on a weekly basis. The Kendall County Coroner has 80 hours scheduled, weekly. Since Kendall, and DeKalb Counties have the same population, why do we need more hours of work performed? If Mr. Dabney follows DeKalb County's protocol, you now have a 20% in total spending, just in payroll alone.. I'm sure there are other items that Mr. Dabney can economize on, but that is the obvious palce to cut..
Concerned long time resident August 07, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Administration in schools, they can definitely use a 20% cut, lots of waste in the school system
hunt club August 08, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Here is a real savings. Don't let the school board build new expensive warehouses and vehicle repair facilities and spend millions of dollars when they can rent a facility for the same purpose, put money back into the community for and still come out costing less over the life span of the proposed new building. These are simple things that no for-proffit company would do. Does every class room need a $1,500 overhead LCD projector? What is purchased and how? Why do the schools get built with "common space" and not class rooms? Hopefully a new set of eyes at 308 which has 60%+ of the tax bill will improve things, but this is Illinois and some of us don't have too much hope due to all the "mandates", winks, and nods. It would be more appropriate for 308 to see what they could do if they turned down state and federal funding and elimiante programs that are a drain on the district and have no real value. How can a person that can not read, write, or do simple math be graduated from high school, or be kept in the system for 10+ years? Hard to say and swallow, but this is over 10% of the school budget. Take a hard look at what we allow in our free society and determine if the benefits of a few out weigh the whole. What programs could be eliminated and would raise school scores and keep principals in their jobs and not feel lack of control for what they are responsible for? Compasion is always needed but as Forest Gump said: Stupid is as stupid does.
Karl Knoernschild August 08, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Exactly which programs are you suggesting should be cut? Just so we can all be clear.
Jeri August 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I would cut all defined pension plans to 401k's all across the board, (every person ) bust unions, and change the attitudes of all municipal employees (school, fire, all village ect....)so they know where their pay comes from. Job requirement = attitude of gratitude.
russ harrison August 09, 2012 at 02:59 PM
How about we explore dropping the big one and see what happens? We're carrying a debt load that is breaking many families backs. WE,( and that's every taxpayer and not just the elected officials), have allowed spending and debts to mount up to an unbearable and unsustainable tax burden. Pretty much everyone agrees that this County pays a lot more in taxes than most other places, and that those taxes can be raised perpetually under the current government system....and it is certain that more tax raises will be coming down the pike. So.....drop the big one and see what happens. Throughout the US, several cities, counties, and various taxing entities have threatened to BK or default on their obligations.The argument exists that forcing a reduction or elimination of debt by this tactic is damaging to the credit worthiness, and that the result will be a lowering of the credit rating, forcing a higher interest on future borrowing. Big deal!The credit worthiness is already jeopardized due to the delinquent property taxes and the obscenely high number of foreclosed properties and delinquent mortgages. The damage is already done, folks. Maybe this is an option we should look at. Other Counties have enacted a "State of Emergency" to deal with fiscal crisis. This allowed them to negate union contracts, rework payments on debt, and write off certain debt completely. It's time to cancel the credit cards and demand a lower payment, folks.
Tim August 09, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Bingo - here we have the perfect mentality of Kendall County residents. "Who cares, let someone else deal with the problems we caused" A drop in your credit rating is not a little thing. I don't think you are aware what double digit interest rates on your future issued bonds will do to your town. Walking away from your obligations sends a CLEAR message to any business entertaining the idea of moving to Kendall... DON'T DO IT. You keep right on thinking that using the same line of thought that brought you to where you are, will somehow magically fix your problem. Not one single time have I seen the residents stand up to say 'we owe this money, and we need to pay it'. Just a long chain of trying to find a way out of existing obligations.
Tim Jr August 09, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Tim - as a non-resident of Kendall County you sure spew your hate for everyone who does live here. Why don't you wash your footie PJs, clean up those cheese curls from your basement hideout, promise to quit playing your Ipod, and get out of mommy's basement to find a job?
Tim August 09, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Ah, personal attacks. Does it bother you that I do have a job that allows me the free time to post here? Does it bother you that I chose not to live in Kendall County when I built my house, because I took the time to look over the finances of the taxing bodies? Does it bother you that all of your problems could be avoided if you spent more time looking at the already existing data, instead of trying to one-up people on a message board? How exactly is that going to help your bottom line? And take notice, that I do not spread hate for 'everyone' that lives there, just those who are so blissfully unaware of the world they live in, that they think it is the responsibility of everyone else but themselves to fix it. You may have noticed that I pointed out that there are people who actually want the services they are paying for, and they voted for it, AND WON. You lost, and are being pushed out by those wealthier than you, whom I have no hate for whatsoever. Either pay your taxes, or move. The bonds that need to be paid off aren't going anywhere for a few decades, so this 'reduce everything by 20%' shows just how unaware of reality this group is.


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