McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said in a news release Friday that the board again is pursuing a flat property tax levy for the 2021 fiscal year.
The county’s 2021 budget and levy will be put on 30-day review at the board’s Oct. 20 meeting and then will be posted on the county’s website at mchenrycountyil.gov.
At its Nov. 17 meeting, the board is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the budget. The county fiscal year runs from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30.
The board has reduced county government’s tax levy for three consecutive years, and for the current fiscal year turned the previous years’ reductions into permanent cuts, according to the release.
“A heavy focus on cost reduction and outside-the-box thinking have not only resulted in real tax savings, but also our being able to weather the terrible economic storm wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping those past savings in place,” Franks said in a statement.
If county government decided to take the highest levy it could under the tax cap without going to referendum, it could levy more than $73.8 million.
At $69,672,249, this year's budget is more than $4 million less than the county could levy under the law, and it is almost $10 million less than the
$79.4 million the county levied in 2016, according to the release.
Next year, the county’s tax rate is projected to decrease from 80.8 cents to 75.1 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, according to the release.
Franks urged other local taxing bodies to follow the county’s example and either reduce their levies or hold them flat so they don’t harm household and small business budgets “pummeled by the pandemic.”
County government accounts for about 10% of property tax bills, according to the release.
Franks said although county residents were struggling under a heavy tax burden before COVID-19, they’re being “hammered” now, with 10% of working-age residents being unemployed.
“Our school boards, city councils and other local governments cannot – cannot – balance their books on the backs of homeowners and small-business owners who are barely holding on,” Franks said. “Carelessly taxing to the max will tax struggling families out of their homes and force struggling businesses to close, and add more people to the unemployment rolls.”
A flat tax levy request from county government does not guarantee that a taxpayer’s bill next year will not increase because of a higher property assessment or other local government entities increasing their tax rates, according to the release.