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!