As Florida continues to grow and now has passed 20 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois is number 49 in population growth. In fact only West Virginia is worse. From July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015 Illinois actually lost population. In the meantime governmental bodies in Illinois from local municipalities and school districts to the state government look for new tax revenue to support the pensions of retired bureaucrats and payrolls of bloated governmental agencies. When a business loses customers, the business will cut expenses and reduce staff to reflect the reduction in demand. When the State of Illinois and municipalities within the State lose population, they look for new sources of revenue to support the existing bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the result is faster population loss coupled with a further decline in revenue.
It was reported in The Journal Standard that Rosati’s pizza chain has requested a tax abatement if it builds a new pizza restaurant in Freeport in front of Menards. How can one justify any tax break for a pizza parlor. There is no shortage of pizza in Freeport. We already have many good restaurants that sell pizza. Another restaurant subsidized by the taxpayers of Freeport will just dilute the existing pool of business for established restaurants in Freeport. Tell Cannovas and Ciminos that they should subsidize their competition.
The mayor of Freeport and certain council members have stated in the past that Freeport’s share of the real estate tax bills for residents of the city is less than 10% of the total bill. There are council members who believe that the citizens of Freeport have an unlimited ability to pay more taxes in order to pay the pensions for retired public employees. As Paul Harvey used to say – now for the rest of the story. Real estate taxes are not the only source of revenue for the City of Freeport. Freeport taxes everything from taxes on all of your utility bills, cable bills, restaurant meals, and even a transfer tax on the sale of your home. Look at your water bill – there is a capital improvement charge of $16.00 and a storm water charge of $4.00. This is just another tax, but one that has no relationship to actual usage. The water portion of many residential users is less than $10.00, but there is an additional $20.00 tax on your bill.
DON’T TELL THE RESIDENTS OF FREEPORT THAT THEY ARE UNDER TAXED!
The overall tax rate paid by homeowners in the City of Freeport is one of the highest in the State of Illinois. Most of us know why our taxes are so high. There are just too many public sector employees such as firemen and policemen who retire in their early 50’s with large pensions. To top it all off, they then get a minimum increase in their pensions each year of 3%. In 10 years many are making more that they were when working. Of course, many of them retire to a new public sector job in another state such as Florida which has no income tax and lower property taxes.
And to those of you who retired from the private sector and are living on social security, you will receive no increase in 2016. I can assure you of one thing. Your real estate taxes will continue to climb in the City of Freeport as the value of your homes continues to fall.