CBS Chicago | Kane County Property Tax Referendum Draws Opposition

TUA Executive Director Rae Ann McNeilly was quoted by CBS Chicago in an article about the Kane County tax hike.
kanecbs(CBS) – A local anti-tax group wants to defeat a referendum next week which would raise Kane County property taxes to help developmentally disabled adults.
WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports people who support the proposed tax to help families take care of disabled adults say the tax hike is needed, because current funding for the developmentally disabled is inadequate.
Rae Ann McNeilly, executive director of Taxpayers United of America and a resident of North Aurora, agreed there’s need for more funding, but not for a tax increase.
“This is not a question of whether these people need or not. This is a question of how we fund this need,” she said.
McNeilly said a new tax would force taxpayers to give more – when many are already stretched to the limit.
“We are giving people a way out of taking responsibility for their children; a lifetime commitment for your child is a lifetime commitment,” she said.
Supporters have said there’s an increasing number of developmentally disabled people, and the tax hike is necessary to help their families pay for care.
McNeilly said that care should be privately funded, and suggested other ideas to get the money needed for those families.
“Have a bake sale. Sell some cookies. Girl Scouts do it. All kinds of organizations do it,” she said.
The proposal would raise property taxes in Kane County by an average of $55 a year.

Chicago Tribune | Glenbard D87 seeks $35 million for renovations

TUA President Jim Tobin was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article about the Glenbard tax hike.
tribglenbardVoters in the March primary will decide whether Glenbard High School District 87 can borrow $35 million to upgrade its buildings.
If the tax increase is approved, debt will be refinanced so the tax rate will not be increased for the bond and interest fund, school officials said. The homeowner of a $300,000 home, for example, would continue paying about $70 a year toward that fund, officials said. The school district’s total tax bill for the owner of a home of that value would be $2,278.
The money would be used for a number of improvements at the district’s buildings, which range from 42 to 88 years old, school officials said.
“Our four high schools are key venues in the community, not just for our students but for our community events on evenings and weekends,” said Superintendent David Larson. “They’re great, well-used assets, but they’re old and tired.”
In all, the district is planning about $100 million in renovations, which includes upgrades to entrances, building security and mechanical systems, along with renovation of science labs, classrooms and adding greener technology. Two of the four high schools, Glenbard East and Glenbard West, are not fully air-conditioned, Larson said.
“We want a fair, comfortable and equitable environment for all our students. I’ve been in those rooms during a hot day in September and it’s just really uncomfortable.”
During the hottest days of the school year, portable fans are brought in and the shades are pulled down, Larson added. During last year’s heat wave, a teacher last year became dehydrated and had to be hospitalized, he said.
Therese Crawford has two students at Glenbard West High School, which is one of the schools without air conditioning.
“They’d come home saying that it’s upward of 90 degrees in the classroom,” she said. “To come home exhausted with a headache and not being able to drink enough water, there’s no constructive learning on those days.”
Crawford is planning to vote for the tax increase.
And so is John Mulrow, a Wheaton resident who graduated from Glenbard South High School and lives within District 87 boundaries. He doesn’t have children in the district but is an advocate of green technology.
“Just reading about the inefficient air conditioning units and old boilers on site, I’m thinking about the wasted electricity and natural gas being used in those buildings,” he said.
Residents may have seen fliers from a support organization called Glenbard4Kids, which has been actively campaigning for the borrowing plan.
“We feel it’s a fiscally sound approach,” said Steve Garwood, spokesman for the group. “We save money in the long term by issuing bonds now at favorable rates.”
Fliers opposing the referendum have also been distributed, coming from a group called Taxpayers United of America. The group is encouraging voters to reject not only the Glenbard measure, but a number of others on the March ballot.
“We’ve been targeting property tax increase referenda,” said Jim Tobin, president and founder of the group. “If the bonds are paid off, people would get a cut in their property taxes, but these bozos want to preclude the taxpayers from getting a cut. That’s a property tax increase.”
Tobin said he has been knocking on doors and passing out fliers in districts where he opposes ballot issues that would raise taxes.
The district’s existing loans are set to be paid off over the next several years. If new borrowing is not approved, the average homeowner is expected to save an average of about $6 per month, school officials said.
If the measure passes, the renovations will start this year and happen over the next 10 years, Larson said. The more noticeable improvements, including the new air-conditioning, likely won’t happen until summer of 2016.

Daily Herald | Kane County disability tax referendum still seeing opposition

TUA’s work in helping Kane County taxpayers oppose property-tax-increase referenda was featured in the Daily Herald.
dailyheraldkaneAdvocates of a new tax that would provide up to $13 million for Kane County residents with development disabilities are trying to educate the public about exactly how the new tax would work. But just the idea of any additional property tax burden has been enough for the referendum to gain at least one notable opponent.
County voters will decide if they are willing to raise their property taxes by an average of $55 per year on March 18. If voters say “yes,” Kane County will form a developmental disabilities services board, known as a 377 board, to distribute funding to agencies that serve an estimated 20,000 residents with various developmental disability needs.
The board, consisting of up to five unpaid members, would receive funding through a levy authorized by the county board. The levy can’t be zero and can’t be more than 0.1 percent of the equalized assessed value of taxable property in the county.
The money collected, about $13 million if the full cap is levied, would then be distributed among about a dozen nonprofit agencies in the county that provide the services. Funds could also be spent at agencies outside the county, but only for services provided to Kane County residents.
Advocates say the new setup is needed because the current system isn’t providing enough funding to meet the existing needs. Federal and state funds are not increasing, while the number of local residents needing disability services is.
“When these residents turn 18, they are no longer, technically, the responsibility of their parents,” said Pat Flaherty, a board member with the Association for Individual Development. “That means they become a community responsibility. They belong to all of us.”
The nonprofit, one of the service providers for people with developmental disabilities, has pumped more than $100,000 into the referendum campaign. AID also has worked to gain handshake agreements from existing 708 boards to avoid double-taxing residents if the new tax is created.
Townships on the south end of the county and the communities of St. Charles and Geneva already tax their residents to help provide services to developmentally disabled residents, as well as residents with substance abuse or mental health problems.
For example, in 2011, all the existing 708 boards in the county collected about $2.38 million in taxes for those three groups of residents. But only about $370,000 of that went to developmental disabilities needs based on the decisions of those individual boards.
There are no 708 boards on the north end of the county, which is part of the reason why advocates are pushing for a countywide tax. If the new tax is created, the existing boards will sign agreements stating that they will no longer collect funds for developmental disabilities, according to Flaherty. The boards, however, will still collect taxes to help residents with mental health or substance abuse problems.
John Knewitz, former assistant superintendent of schools in St. Charles School District 303, said the new countywide tax is both the easiest and best way to fund services for developmentally disabled residents.
Knewitz, who oversaw special education services in the school district, said bringing 708 or 377 boards to the north end of the county is unlikely. Dissolving all the existing 708 boards in the south and central portions of the county, and then creating one countywide 708 board, would require multiple referendums with uncertain outcomes.
“I don’t see any of those possibilities as being realistic in the foreseeable future,” Knewitz said. “The only solution is what we’re trying to do.”
North Aurora resident Rae Ann McNeilly doesn’t believe that’s true. She is the executive director of Taxpayers United of America and believes developmental disabilities services can and should be funded through charitable donations, not taxes.
“What they are asking for is not a small amount of money when you’re adding to an already huge burden,” McNeilly said. “This is a cause that should be supported through volunteer donations, not through force. If we leave money in taxpayers’ pockets, they will have more money to support charities.”
McNeilly believes the referendum would create a double taxing situation for Kane County residents.
“The majority of the revenue the service providers receive is from the state, so it already comes from taxpayers,” she said. “Instead of this referendum, they should be spending money on hosting private fundraisers.”
The dollar numbers for charity flowing to Flaherty’s AID organization are relatively small. Out of $24.6 million in revenue, only $1.33 million came from charitable contributions, according it is most recent tax statement.
“If there are people who think the tax is too much, we would ask them to turn their attention to the existing county budget and cut true waste in government rather than turning their backs on people whose only contribution to their circumstance was being born,” Flaherty said.