Costello and Friess both issue fact checks. Neither can agree on what the facts are.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, (Left), and Republican David Friess
State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, (Left), and Republican David Friess BND file photos

In a recent TV advertisement depicting David Friess running through Red Bud, state Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithon, points to David Friess record of meeting attendance, or lack thereof in 2017, at Red Bud City Council meetings, where Friess is a council member.

The ad then says Friess, a Republican hoping to unseat Costello in the 116th House District, voted to raise property taxes, by more than $24,000, when he was present during city council meetings.

Friess in a news release objected to the ad, as well as mailers saying he voted for massive tax increases.

So let’s take a look.

Yes the Red Bud City Council did increase how much it asked for in property taxes from the 2015 tax year to the 2016 tax year.

In 2015, the council asked to bring in $560,421 in property taxes. In 2016 it asked to bring in $585,146, according to Randolph County Clerk records.

“The fact of the matter is David Friess voted on Dec. 5, 2016 to raise the property tax levy in Red Bud by $24,725 as compared to the previous year,” Costello said. “His attempt to run away from his record is an effort to rewrite history and mislead taxpayers. Quite frankly, if David Friess did not realize he voted for a tax increase as an alderman in Red Bud, what makes anyone trust he’ll know what he’s voting for in Springfield?”

However the amount passed by the City Council is the total amount of property taxes the council asked for to help with city operations. The burden is spread among all the property taxpayers in the city, and how much each household pays is based on its individual property value. The property tax rate is determined after property values are finalized, which takes place in the spring after taxing bodies adopt their annual levies.

In Red Bud, the rate for the 2015 property tax request was $0.84 per $100 of equalized property value. For the 2016 request, the rate was $0.85, according to records from the Randolph County Clerk’s office.

Friess fired back at the ads and recent mailers that claimed massive tax increases.

“I’m proud to call Red Bud my home. Jerry is denigrating the work Red Bud has done to maintain safety, support a thriving downtown, and encourage economic growth,” Friess said. “He should apologize to city leaders, including the mayor, for falsely claiming we are shamelessly raising everyone’s property taxes.”

In Friess’ news release, he even included a comment from a fellow council member.

“I’m not sure where Jerry got his numbers. Over the last 4 years, our spending has been virtually stagnant. If anything, the city’s portion of the property tax bill has decreased because of our growing tax base in Red Bud. I wish Jerry would stick to the facts,” said Red Bud Alderman, Glenn Linnertz.

Sometimes the value of a house may be adjusted from year to year affecting how much the owner has to pay in property taxes.

The owner of a house that was worth $201,950 in 2014 paid $499 to the city in property taxes. That house then was worth $197,550 for the 2015 tax year, and the owner paid $502. In 2016, the house was valued at $200,530 and the owner paid $499. For the 2017, the house was worth $206,780 and the owner paid $509.

Friess responds

Friess in his response to Costello’s advertisements went on to attack Costello for voting for unbalanced budgets and increasing state spending saying debt increased by $16 billion.

Costello counters and says he’s never voted for a budget in full, and most annual state spending plans have been done in separate bills, or silos.

“We’ve done the budget a number of times in silos where you would vote on human resources, education funding, different silos. It may be as many as 19 bills, 15 bills,” Costello said. “If you go back through my voting record, I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a full budget because some of the areas that were out of balance, or that I felt like, southern Illinois wasn’t receiving what they should, I didn’t vote for.”

He cited an example of a cut in transportation funding to schools in Illinois by roughly more than $100 million.

“I can’t support what you call a cut in transportation to the state of Illinois when it disproportionately affects Southern Illinois,” Costello said. “Kids in Chicago there’s a school every two or three miles. Most of them walk to school or take public transportation. Whereas kids in my district, some of them are on a school bus for an hour and 20 minutes.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter