Though Illinois is dismissed as a Democratic state—or more accurately, a Democratic city that wags the tail of the state—there is a lot at state in today’s election. Specifically, a voter response to the most egregious property tax increases in Cook County history. The system is too quixotic to identify who exactly is responsible—the tax rate is established from budgets submitted by 31 municipalities in the county, so each village board of commissioners is responsible, as is the clerk who collects tax revenue, the assessor who evaluates property value, the county board of review who ensures that the rates are fair, and, since everyone’s got his hand in the cook county cookie tax jar, they’re all snakes in need of a thorough St. Patrick-ing.
This year, the property tax battle hits home even harder. Our humble burg has a referendum on the ballot to modernize four community centers at a cost of $48 million. Specifically, “The referendum funding would spread a $48 million bond issuance over a 25-year period. This would add an estimated $36 per year to the current tax bill of a home with a market value of $300,000.”
This $36 is dividing a family. Of the four of its members embroiled in this debate, only one is not employed by the government (and yes, I include teachers as being governmentally employed): me. The one on my side regarding the referendum, is a perennial fighter against any property tax increase. Keep in mind, we all vote Democratic though we’d never identify as Democrats. We’re split at 2-2, neutralizing each other’s votes. One member of the four, who we will call the arm twister, condescendingly offered to pay my $36 to vote for the referendum. A lump sum payment of $900 ($36×25) was not offered.
I agree that nicer park buildings would be nice. I pay for my kids’ classes housed in the gymnasiums of those buildings, which feature tiles floors and out of bounds that are indicated by cinder block walls. But hell no if I’m going to vote to increase a property tax bill. We’re talking need, and my need is greater; the property tax rate is at its highest in Cook County’s history, and has one of the highest median property tax rates in the United States, according to the watchdog site www.tax-rates.org.
Not only that, I pay more in property tax for a place with the same square footage (though the parcel size is larger) than I did while living in the city. To put it another way, I’m paying 14% more in property taxes for a similarly assessed property. For tiled-floor gyms and aging playgrounds. My response to the referendum is the same as it is to the incumbent state politicians responsible for the dire fiscal state of things in Illinois, which is shouldered by the jackasses like me who chose to live here: eat the dick.
Until I get tax relief, or at least some indication that property owners will stop having to bear the burden of incompetent government, I’m voting NO to the referendum and to this ship of fools that’s gotten us into this shipwreck. Unfortunately, I still don’t know who the captain is. I don’t have much to go on other than the Trib’s endorsements, which include brief justifications and Q & As with the politicians.