In neighboring McHenry County, newly elected County Board Chairman Jack Franks fulfilled a campaign promise to reduce the county’s tax levy by 10 percent. In fact, this week the county board unanimously surpassed that promise and reduced the levy by 11.2 percent while promising that no services would be cut or employees laid off.
Undoubtedly, an 11.2 percent cut on just the county portion of the tax bill will result in minimal property tax savings, but when property taxes in McHenry and Lake counties are among the very highest in the nation, we must begin taking incremental steps toward reducing the property tax burden.
There are generally only two things that will reduce local property tax burdens: the state picking-up a greater share of school funding and reductions of local government budgets. Discussions about property assessments and tax rates are nothing more than red herrings.
Unfortunately, while many people complain about high property taxes, almost no one reviews the budgets or attends the budget hearings of their school districts, township, library, municipality, fire protection district, or even their mosquito abatement district. Moreover, voter turnout to elect our local government officials is abysmally low.
Get engaged in local government. Scrutinize local budgets and ask your local elected officials tough budgetary questions. Urge them to follow the lead of McHenry County and take steps to reduce their property tax levy. In a participatory democracy such as ours, citizen participation is critical.
Deerfield Public Library, Trustee