Metro-East News

Here's what Madison County wants to do to keep property taxes under control

Madison County Board members could soon consider putting a property tax limit question on the November ballot if they move forward with a proposal from Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler.

The limit, known as the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, is not a property tax cap. Rather, it is a limitation on the amount of money taxing districts can ask for during the previous year.

The limit prevents a taxing district from asking for an increase above the rate of inflation or more than 5 percent, whichever is lower, from the previous year.

For example, if a library district asked for $1 million one year, it would not be allowed to ask for more than $50,000 additional, or 5 percent more, the next year. If the rate of inflation were 3 percent that year, the district wouldn't be allowed to ask for more than $30,000 additional the next year.

Prenzler said the limitation is something he's "looked at for a long time."

“Taxpayers deserve relief,” Prenzler said in a news release.

This slows revenue growth so homeowners aren't taxed at a rate growing faster than their property value, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

If a taxing district needs more money than the limitation allows, the district can ask voters to approve an increase. More than 30 of 102 total counties in Illinois have the limitation in place, according to the Department of Revenue.

In the news release, Prenzler proposed asking voters on the Nov. 6 ballot whether to implement the limitation. The law would go into effect on Jan. 1 following the election.

The chairman says the law keeps property taxes from increasing out of control, but opponents say the limit can create problems if a taxing district runs into fiscal problems, according to the University of Illinois Extension. It could also increase rates in the short term if taxing districts hiked up their rates in anticipation of limitations.

Robert Daiber, regional superintendent of schools in Madison County, said he would have to examine detailed plans before saying whether the limitation could be effective.

"I would have to look at the parameters to see how much it would save property taxes to see if it would be effective," Daiber said. "It may not be as big of an impact to school district as it once was. At one time it was very impactful."

Daiber said he will discuss the issue with county superintendents at their May meeting.

Prenzler said he plans to announce the proposal as new business at Wednesday's County Board meeting, though the issue has not gone before county committees yet. Prenzler said he plans to submit it for consideration by the Government Relations Committee.

Don Moore, chairman of the committee, says he expects the issue to appear on May's agenda. He said he thinks the limitation could be effective in keeping property taxes from increasing but said County Board members and voters would have to consider possible downfalls.

"I think we need to be cautious with this, but I think it’s a really good idea to look at it," said Moore, a Republican from Troy.

Tax limitations were the trend in Illinois in the late 1990s and early 2000s, though there hasn't been much activity surrounding the issue recently except in Jersey County, where voters shot down the idea in 2015, according to the Department of Revenue.

The issue failed in Madison County in the April 1999 elections.