Thursday, June 5, 2014

Too Many Governmental Units

Here's one way in which we could likely cut Illinois property taxes: reduce the number of local government units with taxing authority.

The state of Illinois has 5976 governmental units with the authority to level real estate taxes to pay bills. I think there are at least a dozen that show up on my Jackson County property tax bill every year. They collect just shy of $26.8 billion in property taxes. The state, by comparison, collects about $27 billion per year in sales and income taxes. Due to the way the state constitution is written, local government units such as cities, townships and counties are limited in the amounts they can borrow in order to fund infrastructure and provide services. Ergo, other taxing districts are set up to provide parks, libraries, fire protection, even mosquito abatement, usually without any means of ending them. Once  a district is established, it typically becomes a permanent fixture, unable to be dissolved, even if officials and citizens want to do so.

Illinois HB 5785 is on the way to the governor's desk for signature. It would allow residents and local officials to explore methods of annexing or consolidating  taxing districts into other districts, making local government a bit more efficient.  

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