The Kendall County Property Tax Revolt's referendum sounds like a pie-in-the-sky concept: Should every taxing body reduce its levy by 20 percent next year?
Some area leaders, including Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski, have said they can realistically reduce their levy - or the dollar amount the government seeks in property taxes - but not by 20 percent. Those behind the referendum started with a push to educate residents about their property tax bills and ended up circulating petitions to get the question on the ballot. The results are advisory and will not require government leaders to do anything.
The current county board is working on the budget for the fiscal year that starts Dec. 1. Last year, County Board members didn't levy as much as tax-cap laws would have allowed in a move that saved the owner of a $200,000 home about $9.50.
They decided to request about $419,000 less in property taxes than tax-cap laws allow and spend down the county's general fund balance so the county would have just less than six months of operating expenses in savings.
Overall, the county planned to spend about $23 million in its general fund, which would have a $1.23 million deficit, according to The Beacon-News. The deficit would be covered by the $13 million fund balance, The Beacon-News reported. If the county had decided to levy as much as it legally could under the tax cap law, the general fund deficit would be $836,000, according to The Beacon-News.
As current board members are discussing the budget, those who want the job after Dec. 1 are campaigning. All 10 County Board seats are open in the November election, with six candidates competing for five spots in District 1 and nine candidates vying for five seats in District 2.
So, Patch asked the County Board candidates what they thought. Here are the e-mail replies we received, unedited:
Kendall County Board Chairman John Purcell:
The County's Levy will go down for the next fiscal year, due to many factors, including long-term fiscal prudence by the current and prevoius boards. As always, the Board should consider many factors, including the impacts to taxpayers when making any budget decsion. Additionally, the County, as are other taxing bodies, is required to implement many State required mandates without supporting funds.
District 1 candidate Matthew Prochaska:
I do support the Kendall County Property Tax revolt's referendum. I have heard constantly for voters that the property taxes in of Kendall County are too high, and people are having a hard time making the payments. When the County Board and Forest Preserve approve their levy, though it is not a large percentage of the property tax bill, it should be a low as possible while keeping County Government operational without eliminating many of the services that are necessary and proper. Low property taxes should be a priority for the next Kendall County Board right up there with transparency.
District 2 candidate Scott Gryder:
I appreciate the effort of the residents that have put this petition together. Reducing our property taxes is a fantastic goal. We need to start by getting our own house in order. Implementing our meeting plan and transparency efforts are two ways that will help us to reduce costs and make county government more streamlined and efficient.
The overall goal though needs to be a vision of where we see Kendall County. We need to create an environment for our current businesses to thrive and one that will attract new businesses to broaden our tax base. This in conjunction with responsible spending will lead to a better quality of life and lower taxes for our residents.
District 2 candidate Lynn Cullick:
A careful review of the budget is a top priority of the new board. Emphasis must be placed on finding efficiencies that will reduce the bottom line. The review is a good first step in ultimately reducing the burden on the taxpayers.
District 1 candidate Amy Cesich:
As a Kendall County tax payer I would welcome a lower tax bill. However, reducing the levy by 20% is not realistic and has the potential to be fiscally irresponsible. When you talk about lowering taxes, you are also talking about reducing services those taxes pay for. A 20% reduction in the Sheriff’s department would impact public safety. We should be working to reduce expenditures and making sure that the funds are spent in an effective way.
Savings could be found in reducing the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for health insurance benefits for County Board members. If I am elected, I will not accept the county-paid health insurance. I believe that part-time elected officials should not have better access to healthcare than the citizens who elect them to serve.
The best way to reduce property taxes is to bring in more viable commercial businesses to take the majority of the burden off of residents. Increase revenue streams and you decrease the burden to residents. The top priority for the board should be to create a plan for future growth, which includes a fiscal review and projection of needs well into the future. We need to make Kendall County and its municipalities more attractive to commercial businesses through incentives and transportation accessibility. This will ultimately lead to a lower tax burden on homeowners in Kendall County.
• Kendall County Property Tax Revolt – A New Beginning
• Golinski: Yorkville Plans Small Tax Levy Reductions
• Kendall County Property Tax Revolt – Ballot Referendum
• Patch Poll: Reduce Property Tax Levies by 20 Percent?
• Kendall County Tax Revolt Group Submits Referendum Petitions
• Poll: Was the County Right to Freeze Its Tax Levy?