Senate hopeful sees property tax freeze as a big first step for taxpayers
Taxpayers in Illinois might soon have a way to ease their tax burden — but they need to pay attention, Dixon Mayor Liandro "Li" Arellano Jr. contends.
"The taxpayers need to take note, because it often takes voter referendums to make consolidations possible," Arellano told the Illinois Valley Times about a proposal to amend legislation and allow Illinoisans to freeze their property taxes via referendum.
"If they truly want tax relief — and they do — then there needs to be public pressure on officials to work on consolidations combined with property tax freezes, or cuts," Arellano, who is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) in the 45th District, said.
The amendment to Senate Bill 851 would implement a two-year property tax freeze for Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will counties. Other counties would be left to freeze property taxes via voter referendum, according to the amendment.
Bryan Smith, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, has issued a legislative alert regarding the proposed change.
"This would mean for those townships/road districts in those counties, this year and next year your extension limitation would be zero percent unless voters approve an increase," he wrote. "In all other counties outside of Cook and the Collar Counties, the amendment, if passed, would allow a county board to place a referendum on the ballot in 2018 to have a property tax freeze for all local governments within that county for 2018 and 2019; or whether to have all local governments within the county subject to a property tax freeze for 2018 and 2019 AND then subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) for levy year 2020 and thereafter."
The House Revenue and Finance Committee recently recommended approving the amendment, and it could be up for a vote in both chambers soon.
Arellano said he sees the change as possibly opening a floodgate.
"This could include — but certainly isn't limited to — reform of prevailing wage, more leeway for local government to negotiate employee benefits such as pensions, and reform of workers' compensation laws," he said. "Simply put, the state is forcing unnecessary expenses onto local governments, and that must be stopped if we truly want true tax freezes."
The 45th District includes some or all of DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Carroll, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee and LaSalle counties.