West Cook News covers TUA opposing two Oak Park property tax increase referendas on April 4th.
If voters approve two Oak Park School District 97 referendums on April 4, they’d better be ready to pay an additional $700 a year in property taxes on average, a taxpayer advocacy group warned recently.
“Illinois has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country,” Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America, said. “You have to wonder how many people could have stayed in their homes if the property taxes weren’t so high – the highest property taxes in the country.”
The two referendums are “asking voters to raise their property taxes by $13.3 million and issue new bonds totaling $57.5 million,” Tobin said.
The advocacy group issued a statement warning voters against passing similar referendums in Lynwood, Berwyn School District 100, Evanston/Skokie Consolidated School District 65, Coal City and Hinsdale Township High School District 86, as well as Oak Park.
The group contends that 80 percent of local taxes go to paying salaries and benefits of government employees.
Will County Gazette covers TUA opposing Coal City’s home rule referendum on April 4th.
Everything from property taxes to groceries and parking could cost more if Coal City voters pass a home rule referendum on April 4, a non-profit advocacy group is warning in a flier.
Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America (TUA) warned that home rule would allow the city to impose new taxes and raise the pay of local officials without voter input.
“I like to call it home ruin,” TUA President Jim Tobin said. “Home rule always means higher taxes because it removes the cap limiting the amount that bureaucrats can increase property taxes. It gives bureaucrats a blank check, and how many government bureaucrats would you trust with a blank check bearing your signature?”
The TUA flier also said that 80 percent of local taxes were used for government employees’ salaries and benefits. It listed the top 10 annual salaries in Coal City, with Village Administrator Matthew Fritz’s $96,465 at the top and police officer Matthew Dillon’s $65,550 salary at No. 10.
The TUA flier was addressed to seven communities voting on home rule or property tax increases. The group is urging residents in Lynwood to also vote against home rule and voters in Berwyn, Evanston, Hinsdale and Oak Park to vote down property tax hikes.
TUA’s executive director, Jared Labell, was interviewed by Shanice Harris of the Madison – St. Clair Record last week. They discussed changes Madison County board members made to the number of work hours needed for county workers to stake a claim in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
A taxpayers’ advocate sees a recent decision that increases the minimum number of hours that Madison County employees must work in order to be eligible for pension benefits as a positive move, but one that only “tinkers” with a more profound problem.
Last month board members changed the number of work hours needed from 600 per year to 1,000 per year in order for county workers to stake a claim in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
“The recent change by the Madison County Board is a good move for taxpayers, but raising county employees’ minimum number of work hours to collect IMRF pensions is merely tinkering on the edges of a much broader problem,” Jared Labell of Taxpayers United of America told the Record. “Defined benefit government pensions are unsustainable.”
County employees previously received IMRF pension for working approximately 12 hours a week, but because of this change, the hours have increased to a minimum of 20 hours of work. The change won’t affect current employees, but will apply to new hires.
“Employees currently working 600 hours a year at a minimum won’t be required to work additional hours to remain in IMRF, so the changes only affect new hires and not existing county employees,” Labell said.
Other counties across Illinois are also increasing the amount of hours an employee is required to work before receiving their benefits. But, according to Labell, the pensions promised to government workers are overly lavish and unfair to taxpayers.
“To receive pensions for as little as 12- or 20-hour work weeks is astonishing. If government employees are to receive pensions, taxpayers should expect these individuals to at least work full-time,” Labell said.
“Taxpayers are struggling under numerous tax burdens in this state. Income taxes, local taxes, and rising property taxes are all tied to the broader government pension problem in Illinois. IMRF is funded through local property tax increases and taxpayers should demand more accountability with their hard-earned money.”
The TUA has advocated for at least offering state workers the option of moving into 401(k) plans, which has been met with fierce opposition by state labor groups.