During the last 21 years the November monthly Shields Township meeting was the 238th out of 252nd I had attended. The request for Lake County property tax allocations had to be made to the County Clerk by December. Several large hand-lettered flip chart pages, presented one by one, told the sorry story of the dire need for greater income in the coming year. The amount to be requested just happened to be the most allowed under the tax cap restrictions.
The sorry story included the fact that two full-time personnel were needed to man the office. The need resulted when one of the two took vacation time (2-3 weeks of the year), and the other really had to work hard to keep the office running. It should be noted that Shields Township pays all full-time employees full-time wages and benefits for working less than a 32 hours week.
The assessor proclaimed that there was extra work to be done. Deputy assessors had to go into the “field” to take pictures of property to maintain the county’s collective data system. It was my understanding that in-the-field work always had been a major part of the township assessment process. Little did I know that field work duties had just been added. Further, Tyler (a new county-wide data collection and management system), expected to be fully operational in 2019, will require each of the Lake County townships to pay additional fees for participation in the mandated system.
It was mentioned that we live in the highest property taxed county in the highest property taxed state. Elementary schools receive 40% of our property tax dollars, the community high school about 20%, and the College of Lake County about 7%.
Municipalities and Park District taxes were also mentioned. However, it was said that our township only received less than 2% of the property tax dollar. The property taxes paid by those in our community are ridiculously burdensome.
While costly, the services rendered by most agencies receiving them are critical. Education, safety, health and welfare, and recreation are necessary to community cohesiveness, security and well-being. In the last 50 years townships have not provided any of the basic need services. Yet, when questioned, our township leader insisted that they do.
The only township mandate in the State of Illinois statutes is to render General Assistance (G.A.). In my 21 years of observation and data collection, I have found very few clients in any of the 18 Lake County townships have qualified for G.A. To prove worth townships have lobbied and gained legislative support to use the property tax dollar to create and manage many additional but not mandated programs. More programs require expanded facilities and more personnel to manage them. Full-time personnel are paid salaries and excellent government benefits. The cost to the taxpayers is about $10.00 for every dollar a qualified client receives.
Townships have become wasteful enterprises the taxpayer can ill afford. It is time to eliminate them.
November 26, 2017