By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Maine Township, located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, has agreed to give property owners a $1.25 million tax break by eliminating this year’s levy for one of the township’s funds and reducing it for another. That’s thanks to the efforts of two trustees who fought to prove the township’s reserves were bloated and far higher than what the township needed.

It’s a rare example in Illinois of government officials fighting to make local government finances more transparent, affordable and resident-friendly.

Many governments across Illinois – from school districts to townships to library districts – continue to tax their residents even as government reserve positions are often way in excess of what’s needed to operate. Wirepoints recently reported on how some Illinois governments are hoarding taxpayer funds and Maine Township was featured.

The township has more than $11.6 million in reserves, enough to run the township for more than 1.6 years without new taxes. And the General Assistance Fund, earmarked for support services, is even more over-reserved, with enough on hand to run its operations for 2.8 years without new taxes. That fund’s levy will be eliminated this year as a result of the township decision.

Trustees Dave Carrabotta and Susan Sweeney pushed for the tax abatement and were joined by Claire McKenzie in voting in favor of the reduction. Supervisor Laura Morask and Trustee Kimberly Jones voted against it.

Illinoisans need more officials to take on the status quo that’s left Illinoisans paying the highest property taxes in the nation. Tax abatements are a needed start.