East St. Louis landlords and commercial property owners are upset that their property taxes doubled and in some cases quadrupled. Some think they’re being unfairly targeted with a tax rate of 17-21 percent compared to 6.72 to 8 percent in Belleville.
They have every right to be upset. Property taxes can be a very inequitable way of sharing the cost of government.
The problem is with “whom” they are upset.
Yes, St. Clair County in 2015 reassessed East St. Louis and those tax bills are hitting property owners now.
But none of this should come as a surprise. Property owners get a postcard telling them about the reassessment and outlining the process for appealing an assessment before the Board of Review.
And “the county,” as much as they are guilty of driving up property taxes by trying to teach that white elephant near Mascoutah to fly, is not responsible for the high tax bills. Their property tax share is a fraction.
Businessman and landlord Nathaniel Jeffries was one of those protesting last week. His building at 1516 State St. in East St. Louis saw its assessment triple, from $10,953 last year to $35,409 on the current bill.
Should he blame the schools which get the lion’s share of most property tax bills? Nope. City students will get the same this year from Jeffries’ building as they did last year: $227. Should he blame the county? Nope. They got about $20 last year and will get another $20 this year.
The big winner after his property was deemed much more valuable was East St. Louis TIF No. 1. It got $1,459 last year and this year will receive $5,630.
Same story for properties owned by the other landlords, Keith Lewis and Wade Wicks. TIF districts are getting most of their taxes.
So if the businessmen want to complain, head to East St. Louis City Hall where they are collecting a big pot of money with which they can bring in new business competitors. At least any newbies can help share the tax burden, which is more than can be said for those TIF funds we keep seeing go to fix up politicians’ houses.