Sunday, November 14, 2010

Property taxes skyrocket in Orland Township, as much as 20 percent

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Property tax bills arrived this week across Cook County, conveniently after the bills were delayed until after the November elections -- there is no doubt in my mind that they were intentionally delayed (as they were eight months earlier) by county officials, but the county taxing system is so complicated the news media is incapable of determining who the real culprit is. So, let's blame all the county officials for that. They knew property taxes were going to increase dramatically, but they didn't want you to take it out on their county-wide and state-wide elections.

Despite the sales tax increase that is in effect and although half of it was repealed (not taking effect until next year), Cook County Taxes jumped about 15 percent for most homeowners.

Orland Township's taxes (village, library, roads and bridges and general assistance) went up about 12 percent. went up also, about 12 percent. My village tax bill went up in Orland Park from $319 to $362, about 12 percent.

But the biggest dollar increase came from the School Districts. Moraine Valley Community College increased their spending so significantly that every home was slammed with a 17 percent increase. My MVCC taxes went up from $164 to $194.

Consolidated High School District 230 taxes also went up about 15 percent on average; on my bill it went from $1,202 to $1,391.

The largest school tax hike came from District 135. And that is amazing considering that the normal cash reserves for any government is 20 percent and their reserve fund is almost 50 percent -- that means they don't need the cash, folks. School enrollment is down with only minor teacher cut backs.  Those taxes went up a whopping 18 percent. And considering District 135 takes the largest annual tax bite from our wallets, 18 percent in District 135 is massive compared to 17 percent at MVCC.

Overall, with those hikes, 70 percent of your increased bill came directly from the local schools.

Orland has great schools, but the tax hike is unjustified. They don't need the money.

The least surprising tax increase, however, came from the bloated Orland Fire Protection District headed by Patrick Maher, who claimed in his repeated campaign mailings in his failed challenge to incumbent Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman that he was fiscally responsible and he had cut our taxes.

Maher's claim, like his entire campaign, was an outright lie. One lie after another. The Orland Fire Protection District jacked up taxes, and then later, lowered them briefly just so he could claim he cut back taxes.

But now that the election is over -- and fortunately he lost -- Maher's Orland Fire Protection District went up about 20 percent on the typical homeowner's property tax bill. My taxes went up from $568 to $660.

The politicians will use a shell game and tell you that the Tax Rate went down. It did go down. But the tax rate is determined based on the total requested by each local government as a percentage of the whole. So, the bottom line is that the tax rate did not go down far enough to show no increase in tax dollars.

Each government asks for money and their spending is what increases your tax payments. Then the county's eight elected officials jack up costs to cover their inefficiencies and mismanagement (Assessor, State's Attorney, Treasurer, Health, etc). And that is where the increases come from.

There's still time to put the pressure on the local officials, and take back control of the Orland Fire Protection District by throwing out all of the incumbents. You can make your voices heard in the upcoming village elections for trustee, too. But conveniently, the tax bills didn't increase during the mayoral and clerk elections -- the clerk really needs to go, too.

-- Ray Hanania

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