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Chicago – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today submitted notice to the Illinois Court of Appeals 1st District, of its intent to withdraw its complaint against the Illinois Toll Authority for the allegedly illegal continuation and increase of the Illinois toll tax.
“The law that originally permitted this toll tax in 1953 was clear in its intent: The toll was temporary and would be paid-up by 1973,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President.
“But Illinois government bureaucrats found the Toll Authority to be such a convenient place for their cronyism, and pay-off for favors owed, that Ill. Atty. General Lisa Madigan (D) is willing to pit the entire Attorney General’s team against taxpayers to protect the Toll Authority.”
“The Toll Authority provides jobs and lucrative pensions for friends of elected officials that they don’t want to lose, even if it means cheating taxpayers who depend on traveling the toll roads to get to their jobs.”
“Because Lisa Madigan has no intention of ending the 87% increase in the toll tax and has the unlimited legal resources of the State of Illinois behind her in this fight, we are withdrawing our complaint to repeal the toll tax increase. We are conserving our resources to continue our fight against corrupt politicians in other ways.”
“This kind of taxpayers’ abuse is rampant in Illinois and clearly illustrates the priorities of the Chicago/Cook County Democratic Machine, which forces taxpayers to fund its lavish salaries and pensions.”
“We have had many successes in shining the light on the excessive salaries and pensions that drive the entire political machine, and we intend to continue to research and report on the taxpayer abuse found in the toll authority and throughout the Illinois government.”
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Chicago – Taxpayers United of America (TUA), today submitted notice to the Illinois Court of Appeals 1st District, of their intent to withdraw their complaints against Oak Park SD 97 and Wilmette SD 39. The complaints had alleged that the two school districts intentionally understated by at least two thirds, the property-tax increase referenda passed by voters on April 5, 2011.
“This case was being bounced back and forth through every jurisdiction by judges at every level. The legal action has drained the resources of taxpayers in these communities. These taxpayers attempted to hold accountable the government bureaucrats who intentionally duped voters into passing these property tax increases,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President.
“The intransigence and deceit of these government-school bureaucrats is mindboggling. They looked taxpayers in the eye, gave them false information on which to base their votes, then fought these same taxpayers in court to hold on to their ill-gotten property tax increases.”
“Our goal in filing these lawsuits was to stop the taxpayer abuse that is perpetrated by bureaucrats who seek only to protect their own lavish salaries and pensions. 80% of this tax increase is being used to pay salaries and benefits of the government school employees. Such tax increases make the teachers and administrators even wealthier, but no benefit of any kind accrues to the students themselves.”
“The judges who rule on these cases have a vested interest in protecting the ‘tax at any cost’ attitude that prevails throughout Illinois. They get generous taxpayer-funded salaries, and when they retire, they receive huge taxpayer-funded pensions.”
“Although we are withdrawing our complaint, we have succeeded in exposing the games these government-school bureaucrats are playing on homeowners, and we will continue to work with local taxpayer activists and groups on these issues.”
Westmont’s historical repeal of Home Rule was featured in The Bugle.
Westmont residents voted no to remain being a Home Rule community by a mere 51 percent of the vote.
Becoming a non-Home Rule community, officials said, the village will have financial repercussions, including a loss of more than $2 million in tax revenues, which went directly into the general operating fund through hotel/motel, sales and gasoline taxes generated.
Under the 1970 Illinois Constitution, hotel/motel tax revenue in a Home Rule community may be applied to the village revenues, while the hotel/motel tax generated in a non-home community can be used only to promote overnight tourism. In 2012, the hotel/motel tax will generate approximately $600,000.
Another fiscal repercussion will be the village’s loss of any taxes generated by non-residents, which was more than $2 million per year.
“An example would be the gas and sales tax which brought in revenue from outside the community so we didn’t have to rely on property taxes as a major source of revenue,” Westmont Village Manager Ron Searl said.
Public safety services benefited from the monies generated through Home Rule status.
“Currently, the Police Department has an $8 million budget, therefore since we lost Home Rule status, approximately 26 percent of that budget will have to be cut,” Searls said. “The Fire Department will lose almost 50 percent of their budget. Public Works will have a similar problem.”
As non-Home Rule community, Westmont will now be required to provide the necessary monies for any unfunded state mandates, which are Illinois statutes that require local municipalities to deliver a service without providing the funding.
In addition, Westmont no longer will be able to borrow at lower interest rates; impose impact fees in order to offset increased service demands or have the flexibility to develop local solutions for local issues.
Organization against Home Rule
The non-profit organization, Taxpayers United of America (TUA), was successful in recommending residents to vote for discontinuing the Home Rule status in Westmont along with four other Illinois communities.
TUA was opposed to Home Rule because, according to the TUA website, municipal leadership needs to respect their constituents’ intelligence and make the cuts necessary to relieve taxpayers from the burdensome growth of government employee salaries and pensions.
“Taxpayers are the big winners in Westmont, where they successfully ended Home Rule taxing authority,” said Jim Tobin, President of TUA. “Home Rule communities always have higher taxes, and that is the message that resonated with voters yesterday. People aren’t being fooled any longer; they know that 80 percent of Home Rule taxes go to pay salaries and benefits.”
Appeal under way
The village has a pending appeal to the U.S. Census Bureau. The appeal challenges the 2010 Census population count. A vote for Home Rule status is necessary only in communities with a population under 25,000. In 2007, the population was 26,211 while the 2010 census reduced it to 24,685.
“The Census count appeal process ends June 2013,” Searl said. “We found what we believe are errors made in the count of specific living quarters and persons. We have submitted this data to the Census Bureau for their review and consideration.”
The legal opinion states that if the appeal were to be successful the village would automatically become Home Rule under Illinois law, according to Searls.
The unofficial November 6 vote results indicate that 839 voters did not answer the Home Rule question.
If the appeal passes next summer, it is unclear when the Home Rule status will be reinstated.