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.
Location: 1730 S. Hance Drive, Freeport, Illinois
Owner: Freeport Senior Housing II, 1001 E. Touhy Ave Suite 50, Des Plaines, IL
REAL ESTATE TAXES PAID: NONE
As with much of the new senior housing in Freeport, no real estate taxes are paid on the buildings. This shifts the real estate tax burden to the home owners and small businesses in the community. The occupants and investors in this building should thank the citizens of Freeport for this generous tax subsidy.
Freeport School District does lead in one category – TAXES! For the 2014 real estate taxes payable in 2015 the District leads the way by not only increasing its tax rate, but by the fact that it takes about 60% of your real estate taxes. The tax rate in Freeport is unconscionable, and these rate increases cannot continue. When economic development is discussed, someone should address the fact that high real estate taxes are detrimental to economic development and contribute to declining real estate values. Let’s look at Naperville, Illinois which is often rated as one of the nicest cities in the country. Naperville has a 2014 real estate tax rate of 7.3814 compared to Freeport’s of 12.49685. This means that the owner of a $150,000 owner occupied home in Naperville pays $3,248 in real estate taxes versus $5,498 in Freeport. Draw your own conclusions!
Most properties in the City of Freeport are over assessed. This means that your real estate taxes are too high. Property values since 2008 have been falling, and assessments do not accurately reflect this fact. If you don’t like your assessment, you must file a complaint with the Stephenson County Board of Review. Why can’t the Freeport Assessor treat all property owners fairly by basing all assessments on current market values? The answer is simple – government bureaucrats at the city and county level have a vested interest in maintaining high assessments in order to produce more tax revenue. Many properties in Freeport are assessed at 20% to 30% over market value. This could cost a taxpayer hundreds and even thousands of dollars each year.
If someone robs a bank, it is called stealing since you are not entitled to money which depositors have entrusted to the bank. When government unfairly taxes its citizens and misuses taxpayer money, it is justified since the bureaucrats rationalize that it is used for a good purpose – the salaries of government workers! In truth it is just plain wrong and no different than stealing.
Mayor Gitz said in his weekly column in the Journal Standard on July 13, 2014 that the MetLife Building is too big for city hall, and he does not want it off the tax rolls! Surprise! When did a Mayor of Freeport or the present city council get concerned about taking buildings off the tax rolls. Wake up Freeport! Every TIF in Freeport takes property off the tax rolls. The Fifth Third Bank building, if acquired by the city, will take a property off the tax rolls to the tune of $65,455.94. I guess $65,000 does not count! Just shift more taxes to the homeowner and the few remaining small businesses in Freeport. Oh by the way, before city acquires any more buildings, let’s deal with the existing buildings that it owns. It takes a lot of nerve to talk about buying more buildings when the city cannot even maintain its existing buildings.
Don’t let those taxing bodies fool you. Every taxing body in the City of Freeport has increased their tax rates for 2013 led by the Freeport School District which has the capacity by itself to bankrupt this community. The total tax rate for those living in Freeport has increased over 10% in two years, and this is a fact. If this rate increase continues at 5% per year, it would be up 25% in five years. If you work in the private sector, has your income gone up over 10% in last two years? If you are retired without a public pension, has your social security gone up 10% in the last two years? When will the taxpayers in Freeport say enough is enough? The answer is clear – only after it is too late, and we are close to that point.
Freeport does have one big disadvantage when it comes to economic growth. It is located in Illinois! Illinois is known as anti-business state and high tax state (they go together). Although it may not be totally justified, that is the perception. To make matters worse, the reckless spending and high taxes at a state level must be contagious. Look at the Freeport School District! A tax rate of 6.5% in 2012 and for 2013 it is 7%, and this District had enough nerve to want 1% sales tax increase. While many states such as Texas have no state income taxes, Illinois raised its tax 67% a few years ago. It was supposed to be a temporary increase – what a joke. Taking the revenue away from the bureaucrats in Illinois is like taking sugar away from rats. Once the rat gets used to the sugar, it will do anything to get more. Same for the politicians in Springfield. Illinois, instead of looking for ways to cut spending, looks instead for new sources of revenue which is another way of saying more tax increases are coming!
An editorial in the Journal Standard on April 1, 2014 reflected on Governor Quinn’s proposal to give every property owner a $500 refund on their property taxes. It further stated that the refund is of less value in Stephenson County for the following reason:
“What’s more, a flat refund is of less value in Stephenson County than it is in areas where property taxes are not quite so out of whack.”
Yes, taxes in Stephenson County and in particular Freeport are “out of whack.” In fact that is a nice way to put it. Property tax assessments (based on market values supposedly) in many cases bear no relationship to actual property values. High tax rates and unrealistic property assesments have contributed to to falling property values, population decline, and businesses leaving the area.
What small business owner wants to fight about its assessment every year?
What home owner wants to live in a community where his tax assessment has not fallen along with property values?
Who wants to own property in a community where the tax rate goes up every year with a corresponding increase in your real estate taxes?
The answer is no one. People are tired of fighting. They say nothing, but their actions speak for them. They just leave the area.
Years go, a local Freeport community leader would tell people that if they did not like it in Freeport, they should leave. Will, my friend, they are all gone now. Thank you for your words of wisdom.
Freeport School District Has A Lot in Common With The Politicians in Springfield – The Solution to Every Problem Is More Taxes!
Real Estate Taxes in the City of Freeport are some of the highest in the country with the rate going up each year. Ask your local politicians about the rate for next year.
The school districts in Stephenson County led by Freeport want another 1% added to the sales tax so Freeport will be 9%. Spend $10 and pay almost $1 in taxes! They say it will be used to pay off existing bonds. A sales tax increase is only justified if there is a corresponding decrease in real estate taxes dollar for dollar – and that must be guaranteed which is joke. Give the bureaucrats running the school districts more money, and they will just spend more money. Schools in the Freeport District received failing grades since not one grade met state averages, and has the lowest graduation rate of school districts in Stephenson, Carroll, and Jo Daviess Counties. So much for more money for failing schools. More money is not the answer.
The Freeport School District has already announced it is increasing its levy 1.83% and that an owner of $100,000 residence will pay an additional $120 more in real estate taxes!
Yes, Freeport School District is recognized this month for consistently raising our real estate taxes and now it wants a special sales tax to raise even more money. Perhaps, it will request a special exit tax on everyone leaving the community until no one remains! True bureaucrats don’t care as long as they get paid – since they can just move on to their next victim when a community is destroyed.
For more details and to compare this district to schools in other districts go to http://fh.suntimes.com/reportcards/search/index
The meeting will be at 6:00 pm in City Council Chambers at 524 West Stephenson Street, 3rd Floor.
If you have Comcast Cable, go to channel 17 to watch live.
Items of interest:
Presentation by students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Urban and
Regional Planning on projects such as passenger rail, housing, Tutty’s crossing, and public transit.
This should be an interesting presentaton. Go to http://urpl.wisc.edu/ for more about the Department.
Update from Dave Young, Director of Northwest Illinois Development Alliance (NIDA). Probably wants more money!
1st Reading (no comment allowed since there was a public hearing) of Ordiance for Variation for Group
Home (eight residents) for special need individuals at 325 West Rye Ridge. Since there were no written
objections and a unanimous recommendation from Planning Commission, it can be voted on with only one only one reading. In the minutes of the meeting, Laura Kelly who represented the applicant,
Northwest Illinois CILA, LLC, of Galesburg, Illinois, when asked what types of disabilities the residents would have stated that the primary disability would be developmental/mental retardation. The use of the term “mental retardation” which many people find offensive has been replaced by the term “intellectual disability” by most organizations and governmental agencies such as Social Security. It is surprising that someone in this field who purports to be an advocate in the area of helping individuals with special needs would use such a term. Someone should ask Ms. Kelly if she has heard of “Rosa’s
Now for the big question that no one asked – How much will this home pay in real estate taxes or is it just another tax exempt parcel in Freeport which will demand city services and pay nothing towards them? A similar home for individuals with intellectual disabilities at 1774-1776 S Hance Dr pays –you know the answer – no real estate taxes!
The minutes of the Planning Commission hearing are informative and can be found at http://www.cityoffreeport.org/OrdRes/SUP%20325%20RYE%20RIDGE%20_20140121.pdf
For the complete agenda of the council meeting, go to http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/citygovernment/Agendas/A20140121a.pdf