By Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Illinoisans are leaving the state in droves. Illinois and Chicago have both lost population three years in a row.

Despite that sobering fact, state and local officials keep raising taxes.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a downstate city like Danville which is just three miles from the Indiana border or a community on Chicago’s North Shore. Illinois will never recover if its tax base continues to flee.

Even those in more affluent areas of the state will become fed up and leave when tax burdens get too high.

That warning should be heeded by Wilmette’s District 39 school board, which wants to increase its property tax levy again this year. The board can’t afford to ignore the many problems facing Illinoisans and Wilmette residents in particular. Here’s why:

Link to Wirepoints’ analysis sent to the SD 23 school board: The Wilmette community can’t afford more levy increases

Local

– Wilmette SD 39’s effective tax rate is up 65 percent since 2009 because Wilmette property values and personal incomes have yet to recover from the Great Recession. In contrast, school tax levies have only gone up. 

– Local governments do nothing to coordinate their negative impact on homeowners. New Trier HD 203 has already raised its levy. So has the library district. The Village of Wilmette has the same plans. This lack of coordination plays out everywhere across the state. Illinois has almost 7,000 units of local government that don’t cooperate with each other when imposing new taxes on residents.

Statewide

– Illinoisans already pay the highest property taxes in the nation – three times higher than those in Indiana and twice as high as those in Missouri. The newly proposed federal tax laws (discussed below) will only worsen the burden for Wilmette residents.

– Illinois recently imposed a 32 percent increase in state taxes. The state now has one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the nation. Without pension reform, state and local taxes will only go up.

Federal

– New federal tax laws will limit deductions of state and local taxes, including property taxes, to $10,000. Given Illinois’ high property taxes, the new law will have a negative impact on North Shore homeowners.

– The new laws will also limit the amount of mortgage interest deduction, creating more downward pressure on home values.

Peoples’ reasons for leaving Illinois may be very different across the state. In Danville, some residents are simply being squeezed out financially or leaving due to a lack of opportunity. In Wilmette, other residents may simply be fed up with the rates they pay and the failed policies in their community and the state.

The result is the same no matter the reason: Illinois loses people and the burden worsens for those who remain.

Link to Wirepoints’ analysis sent to the SD 23 school board: The Wilmette community can’t afford more levy increases

11 Comments
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Sandy
2 years ago

This report was fantastic! I wish you could compile one for all area disricts 🙂

Ted Dabrowski
2 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

Thank you, Sandy. What district(s) are you in?

Sandy
2 years ago
Reply to  Ted Dabrowski

District 73. The school board failed at a $42 million referendum last year based on space issues and will try again in the spring. We haven’t paid off the last bonds. Many do not trust the high enrollment projections and believe them to be scare tactics. We are well below design capacity and within functional capacity based on a 2013 space analysis done by the district. Our boundaries need to be redrawn as they are ridiculous but as I understand, it’s very complex and political to do so.

Ted Dabrowski
2 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

Sandy, I see three different districts with 73. What’s the name of yours? Thx.

Sandy
2 years ago
Reply to  Ted Dabrowski

Oops, sorry. Vernon Hills.

Pam Roehl
2 years ago

Thank you. This is factual, well-stated and important information.

Mike
2 years ago

A few transparency reforms for Wilmette Elementary District 39 would be including the salary schedule in the collective bargaining agreement posted on the district website, include prior collective bargaining agreements on the district website, and posting a board agenda packet for board meetings instead of individual documents. A board agenda packet is a compilation of the individual board agenda documents in one pdf that is searchable and allows copy from the packet and paste to another document. For example, the agenda for tonight’s meeting includes 19 documents. It is easier to download and manage 1 document, as opposed to 19… Read more »

Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

There is a livestream video feed for Wilmette SD 39 board meeting now underway.

http://wilmette.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=9411df57-690b-4e94-a189-dacaf7610ed3

The link was found on the district’s home page:

http://www.wilmette39.org

nixit
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike – Out of curiosity, I pulled up the D39 contract. Under “TRS Payments” is the following:

The Board shall remit for each Bargaining Unit member a portion of such Bargaining Unit Members’ compensation due such Bargaining Unit Member pursuant to the Compensation Schedule of this Agreement to the Illinois Teacher’s Retirement System to be applied for the retirement
account of such Bargaining Unit Member (rather than survivor’s annuity account)…”

Is this a pension pick-up? If so, how much you wanna bet that “portion” is 8% minimum? I say 8% because they called out the 1% survivor annuity separately.

Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  nixit

It seems to be a pension pickup (board paid TRS) and the best guess is 8%. However it is just a guess because that section (Article XIV – Professional Compensation Related Provisions, H – TRS Payments) of the Wilmette SD 39 collective bargaining agreement (cba) is poorly worded. The section can be re-written via a re-opener (the union would have to agree) to clearly state the terms terms. Or the Wilmette District 39 board can write a letter to the taxpayers better explaining the terms. For example a “Compensation Schedule” is referenced, but there is no Compensation Schedule in the… Read more »

nixit
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

If it is a pension pick-up, I couldn’t imagine a more confusing way to word it.