Illinois township governments' opposition to a property tax freeze, including a now-defeated amendment that would have required voter referendums on such freezes in most counties, is predictable, said the Burr Ridge village mayor.
"I'm not surprised," Mayor Mickey Straub, who is running for the state House in next year's election, told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Straub said he would like to see far fewer units of local government in Illinois, which has more of those units of government per capita than any other state at about 7,000.
Burr Ridge Mayor Mickey Straub
"Townships are probably not needed, and consolidation would be prudent," Straub said.
Straub, president of Sales Activity Management, a faith-based company in Burr Ridge, has been mayor of the village since 2013 when he defeated the incumbent Mayor Bob Sodikoff. Straub was re-elected during the Consolidated Elections in April in which he ran unopposed and received 100 percent of the vote. Straub is running for the 82nd State House District seat filled by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs).
The 82nd State House District includes parts of Cook, DuPage and Will counties.
An amendment that would have allowed for a two-year property tax freeze in Illinois counties was recently defeated in the General Assembly. Amendment 1 of Senate Bill 851, added to the existing bill Oct. 26 by state Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg), would have implemented a two-year property tax freeze for Cook and some collar counties, while the rest of the state would be left to freeze property taxes via voter referendum.
"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," Bryan E. Smith, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, said in an urgent legislative alert. "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."
SB 851 advanced out of the House Revenue and Finance Committee on Nov. 2, with a recommendation for it to be adopted. On Nov. 8, Amendment 1 as withdrawn by Mussman and, after a short debate, SB 851 passed the House.
State lawmakers need to approach township governments' opposition to a property tax freeze head-on, Straub said.
"Research to see if there's some legal way the state could prevent it," he said.
Voters need to take note as well, Straub said.
"It affects taxes and property values," he said.