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County Board kills ballot push for property tax limitation law

Measure advanced by County Chairman Kurt Prenzler fails to gain traction

The Madison County Board on Monday postponed putting property tax caps on the November ballot, pushing it past the deadline and killing it.

The 18-6 vote defeated the motion to put the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law referendum before voters. State law requires the county board to place it on the ballot 79 days prior to the election. The deadline is Aug. 15.

PTELL limits the ability of taxing districts to raise taxes beyond the rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index. PTELL is the law in 39 Illinois counties, home to 80 percent of the state’s population.

Monday’s meeting was held virtually. It had originally been scheduled last week but only 13 members of the Madison County Executive Committee attended. Prenzler countered by scheduling five special meetings this week, all with the same agenda – placing PTELL on the Nov. 3 ballot.

In 2018, Chairman Kurt Prenzler asked the board to put PTELL on the ballot, but it was tabled by a 14-10 vote.

Board members argued that they did not know enough about PTELL and they did not have enough time to make the decision.

“I’m disappointed,” Prenzler (above) said, “Yes, PTELL is complicated, but I believe the people who pay the taxes, not the politicians, should be the ones voting on it.

“If re-elected, I will continue to pursue property tax relief for taxpayers,” he said.

Board member react

PTELL limits the ability of taxing districts to raise taxes beyond the rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, his release explained, adding that “PTELL is the law in 39 Illinois counties, home to 80 percent of the state’s population.” But whether or not it is a good law for Madison County’s non-incorporated areas raised questions.

PTELL limits the amount of tax extensions (total taxes billed) for non-home rule taxing districts, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue website.

It does not “cap” individual property tax bills or individual property assessments, the IDOR site says. Instead, it allows a taxing district to receive a limited inflationary increase in tax extensions on existing property, plus an additional amount for new construction, and voter-approved rate increases.

It slows the growth of property tax revenues to taxing districts when property values and assessments are increasing faster than the rate of inflation, the site explains. As a whole, property owners have some protection from tax bills that increase only because the market value of their property is rising rapidly.

Increases in property tax extensions are limited to the lesser of 5 percent or the increase in the consumer price index for the year preceding the levy year. The limitation for a taxing district can be increased with voter approval, according to the site.

Illinois State Statute 35 ILCS 200/18-213 allows county boards to put the question of applying PTELL to non-home rule taxing districts with all or a portion of the equalized assessment value (EAV). PTELL limits annual property tax extension increases.

But not for everyone. Not for those living in incorporated cities like Collinsville and Edwardsville. That’s one of many aspects that aren’t very clear, according to several board members.

“I think, more than anything, that proponents of this are saying we should just throw it to the ballot and whether we can understand it doesn’t matter,” said Chris Guy, a Republican from Maryville. He said that at the executive committee meeting held immediately before the proceedings that he asked basic questions of fact and that he either didn’t get an answer or did but there were “major discrepancies” between what board members said. “Like whether or not it eliminates backdoor referendums,” he said. “One group thinks it does. Another group thinks it doesn’t. So if we don’t have a basic understanding of what it does, how can we responsibly be telling people to go vote on it?

“When they see you at the supermarket the next day and they say, ‘Hey! Tell me about PTELL!’ are you supposed to say ‘Oh, you know, I don’t really know. Go do your own research.’? Cause if so it doesn’t sound like a responsible public servant to me. It doesn’t sound like you’re making a responsible decision,” he said.

“Another discrepancy was which cities does it affect and which ones doesn’t it,” he continued. “I’m under the understanding that it does not affect cities such as Madison and Fairmont City which are part of Madison County. And those weren’t brought up. So again, we don’t even understand the basic facts of who’s affected.

“If I understand correctly, I don’t think it affects close to 100,000 people,” he said. “So if you live in Collinsville, for example, I don’t think 80 percent of your tax bill is affected by this, maybe 100. So we’re telling people in Collinsville, hey, vote for this to lower your tax bill. And they have the exact same vote as somebody from Alhambra, St. Jacob or Marine where it actually does affect the majority of their tax bill.

“We’re basically saying ‘vote on it and we’ll understand it later,’” he said. He said the last time he heard someone say that was Nancy Pelosi referring to Obamacare.

Opponent Daiber seeks fiscal cuts

Prenzler will square off in November against Democrat Bob Daiber, of Marine.

Daiber this week called for cuts to the budget of the County Board Chairman’s Office. He said they would save taxpayers more than $1 million over the next four years.

Under Daiber’s proposal, the County Board would move to reduce the Board Chairman’s salary by 20 percent and would eliminate the IMRF pension benefit paid for by taxpayers. Daiber also said he would forgo any county-paid health insurance benefit.

Daiber (below) said he would also eliminate the positions of compliance manager and deputy county administrator, two new positions created during Prenzler’s administration.

“The salary for the County Board Chairman has become inflated and should be reduced to reflect the duties of the position,” said Daiber. “Serving in public office should be about helping residents and business owners, creating jobs, advancing the region through education and training, improving infrastructure, and providing social support programs to our communities, not high-paying salaries for an office holder and their friends.”

“Kurt Prenzler admitted in a recent press release that property taxes are ‘out of control,’” continued Daiber. “Maybe if Prenzler wasn’t using the taxpayers’ hard-earned money to create high paying jobs for political allies, property taxes wouldn’t be so out of control on his watch.”

“If elected Chairman, I will operate County government with one experienced County Administrator and will not use taxpayer money as a personal piggybank to reward political allies,” continued Daiber.

“One of the primary reasons I am running for County Board Chairman is my concern for the fiscal health of Madison County,” said Bob Daiber. “Throughout my service as Regional Superintendent of Schools and as Marine Township Supervisor, I have demonstrated a commitment to fiscal responsibility, and I firmly believe that a good leader sets an example by running their own office efficiently and effectively.”

Daiber will be sending correspondence to Madison County Finance Committee Chairman Don Moore outlining these proposed cuts to the office of County Board Chairman and asking for the immediate consideration of this fiscally responsible proposal.

“Country Boards must set the salary and benefits for each prior to the election for each office,” stated Daiber. “While the current salaries are in place, the cuts are definite agenda items for my administration.”

Some information provided by reporter Charlie Feldman of Times Tribune News.

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