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Kane County eyeing first property tax increase in a decade

The amount of property tax money residents give to Kane County may increase from $7.47 to $33.35 next year, depending on the outcome of one of several remaining decisions that Kane County Board members have to make about the 2023 budget.

After much debate, the board decided against asking voters to create a new county sales tax. That spiked a potential new revenue source to address an expected $16.3 million deficit for 2023. Increases in salary and benefits and the same price increases in goods and services average consumers are navigating are the significant factors driving the deficit. About $3 million of that hole relates to mandated justice reforms stemming from the SAFE-T Act put in place by state lawmakers, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

At the same time, county board members have taken an austere approach to taxes. They’ve shunned Consumer Price Index increases to the county’s portion of local property tax bills for more than a decade. And they’ve kept government salaries lower than neighboring Lake and DuPage counties.

“We have come to this place because we have allowed an increase in recurring expenses to be approved without a corresponding increase in revenues,” Joe Onzick, the county’s CFO, told the board last week. “The SAFE-T Act and the [employee raises] are only going to be adding to it.”

There is general agreement on the board that the bulk of the 2023 deficit will be paid off by spending down the county’s savings.

The two most significant remaining decisions are how big should the raises be for non-union county employees during a time of a large deficit. And should the county board raise property taxes to help address some of that deficit moving forward?

County Board Chair Corinne Pierog presented a chart showing the cost to local taxpayers of implementing either a 3.5% or 5% property tax increase in 2023.

For the owner of a home with a fair cash value of $225,000, and with general and senior tax property exemptions, the cost could be as low as $7.47 on a 3.5% increase. Or it could be as high as $33.35 for the owner of a home with a fair cash value of $600,000 and no exemptions under a 5% property tax increase.

Part of the reason the County Board decided against asking voters to implement a new county sales tax is that the entire board is up for election following redistricting. It remains to be seen how many board members have the political appetite to vote in favor of a property tax increase.

Dale Berman serves as the chairman of the county board’s finance committee. He began the push in favor of a property tax increase.

“A 5% increase, for a senior with a home, that’s [the cost of] two martinis and a tip,” Berman said. “That’s not much. I’m in the category of having a $300,000 home. I can get by with only one martini. I think we need to consider that.”

The board has until Nov. 29 to put a new budget in place. That means board members could wait until after the November election, but before a new board is seated, to vote on a property tax increase.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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