Saturday, January 24, 2009

Confront High Property Tax Assessments


Falling property values could mean higher taxes. Higher home and property owners taxes are a nightmare to many. Municipalities unwilling to cut their budgets and reign in expenses are the reason for much of the dilemma.

Often scare tactics of cuts in service are employed. A governor of NJ threatened to close the beaches and parks, even the casinos if his state sales tax was not passed. He wouldn’t look into actual cutting the fat and excesses out of the budget and got his tax increase passed.

Government should mirror the private sector in wage and benefits. Instead government take unfair advantage by getting higher wages than the typical WalMart, Home Depot employee, get to retire in 20 years while the average Joe works till he’s 65.

Property tax caps and higher state sales taxes are some of the solutions offered by government. Should you be worried about your property taxes with foxes in the henhouse making the rules don’t slash extraneous jobs and expenses?

The appeals process is always in place for property owners who believe their values are too high. Numerous areas for price adjustment exist when comparing your home to another home’s sold data. Changes in square foot data, age of home, location, condition, number of garages are some the area that can be adjusted for Even in average times usually a higher error rate exists in property tax assessments. The National Taxpayers Union writes that as many as 60% of all homeowners are over-assessed and not in line with their home value. (”How To Fight Property Taxes” 2004 p.1). This fact alone gives one pause to check their property taxes. It also presents and excellent home based business opportunity.

We’re seeing a great number of families facing foreclosure and rising property taxes and their home values fall. That doesn’t sit right with most people’s sensibilities.

Property owners have the right to formally appear in front of a board of equalization to share their information and state their case. Nevertheless the first course of appeal would be to contact the property tax assessor and give compelling evidence. Be prepared for deaf ears, few listen well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ICC Off On Another Borrowing Spree

Let the Illinois Central College Board know how you feel about this travesty:

ICC is off on another "keeping up with the Joneses" building spree. In this case, as I predicted, "the Joneses" is Heartland Community College and IVC.

It's an arms race that no one can win.
They all claim they must build to remain "competitive" and then show how "under taxed" their constituents are compared to the other community college property tax payers. Then the "competition" is further emboldened to start new building and it's a never ending construction war.

It would be different if the burden were born by sales taxes, or the State of Illinois, or the users of the colleges, but NO - it's the "stable and ever ready" property tax trough which is tapped over and over and over again.

The property tax payers should not have to shoulder this burden for rec facilities and such, particularly at this point in the economic curve. We simply must contact these board people who remain totally unaccountable to voters.

What world are they living in?
Here are the details of this latest folly:

The Illinois Central College Board has decided to float bonds to seek funding for up to $33 million for capital and operations purchases and upgrades. The money is to be used as follows-

Capital projects:

• CougarPlex $14.5 million
• Math and laboratory science, Maple Hall $3.8 million
• Culinary Arts Institute $3.5 million

• ICC South campus $1.5 million
• Student Success Center $1 million

• Learning Resource Center $1.5 million

• Student Services $2.5 million

• CAT Dealer Training/DPET courses $1 million

• Perley Building upgrades $1 million

• Thomas Building upgrades $1 million

• Capital projects total $31.3 million Operations
• Technology upgrades $1.12 million
• Furniture and equipment $400,000

• Vehicle and equipment replacement $180,000 Operations total $1.7 million

Capital and operations total $33 million

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Double Whammy for Tax Districts Next Year

by Cal Skinner (Illinois Review)

The rate of inflation has been announced for the year 2008. The chart to the right tells the tale. (Click to enlarge.) The Consumer Price Index increased only 0.1%. That's not 1%. That's 1/10 of of 1%. Worse even that the 1.1% for the twelve months I reported in December in Tax District Officials Will Say, “Oh, Bleep!” When They Read This With school districts having grown used to 3% or so (4.1% last year) and many school districts having signed teacher packages in that range, even above, you can bet there will be some worried faces today. Oops. Lots of schools are closed today, so the consternation probably won't come until Monday. Tax districts can, of course, always go to the voters and ask permission to raise taxes. Below are the CPI's for used for the Property Tax Cap (PTELL is the acronym) since its institution. Remember that the years given are for the assessment year. Tax collections based on these years are one year later. For example, the 2008 assessment year taxes for which the CPI was .01%, but has not been officially announced by the Illinois Revenue Department, will be collected this spring 1990 - 5.0 (5% Max, even thou CPI was 6.1%) 1991 - 3.1 1992 - 2.9 1993 - 2.7 (5% for Cook) 1994 - 2.7 1995 - 2.5 1996 - 3.3 1997 - 1.7 1998 - 1.6 1999 - 2.7 2000 - 3.4 2001 - 1.6 2002 - 2.4 2003 - 1.9 2004 - 3.3 2005 - 3.4 2006 - 2.5 2007 - 4.08 (rounded up to 4.1) In addition to this cost of living increase, local tax districts get money from any new construction which has occurred since the year before and assessment increases from any tax increment financing districts which are expiring. But McHenry County Supervisor of Assessments Donna Mayberry told township assessors last month that she expected negative multipliersthis coming year. Almost nothing for an inflationary increase from the Tax Cap and the assessment base going down. Now, that's a double whammy. Finally, with new construction way down, one might conclude tax districts are facing a triple whammy. There has been a move in the Illinois General Assembly to switch the measure of inflation from the CPI—to which taxpayers can relate—to a more friendly index. There are two out there that are more friendly to government-oriented folks. One measures the increase in the cost of government. (I don't know if the trillions being printed in Washington are included or just state and local government increases.) The other, the employment cost index, measures the cost of employees—salaries, health benefits, etc. On year I checked in the early 2000's would have allowed almost twice as high an increase under the employment cost index as it would have been under the CPI. Undoubtedly a strong effort will be made to change the inflation definition for the Real Estate Tax Cap. And, if you don't think so, read this articlefrom right before Christmas. Of course, Home Rule units like the City of Crystal Lake have other options. They are not constrained by the Tax Cap. Such municipalities could get raise their real estate tax rates or follow Crystal Lake's example. Under the leadership of Mayor Aaron Shepley, its council raised its ales tax rate by 75%. One wonders how orator C.L. McCormick (R-Vienna), a contemporary and from the same district as Paul Powell, would have waxed about the “tax eaters,” a term he coined about 1972. = = = = = The strikers are from Huntley School District 158. The city hall with the blue skies overhead is Crystal Lake's. Published first on McHenry County Blog.