It’s a rite of spring.
No, not the first robin sighting (though I started seeing the orange-breasted beauties a couple of weeks ago).
No, not the first lawn mowing (check! I completed that at our house on Saturday).
Nope, not the first day one wears shorts (haven’t experienced that milestone yet).
I’m talking about property tax bills.
Ours arrived in the mail Saturday.
It’s sort of a good news/bad news situation.
The good news is the bill is only 66 cents higher than last year.
The bad news is the fair cash value of the house is down 15.5% from two years ago, and the “assessed value” (meaning: the value only the assessor understands) of our house went down 8.72% since last year.
So, wait; the value of my house is down but my taxes are up? To be clear, “up” 66 cents isn’t much and it certainly could be worse. But if my house is worth less, shouldn’t I be paying less tax?
Nope. The county commissioners make sure of that when they set the “multiplier” (i.e. “tax rate”). Just because my house is worth less doesn’t mean they want to take a pay cut. This is a government we’re running here, not a business, you silly girl!
Well, nothing is certain but death and taxes. I’m not surprised by my bill.
Nor am I surprised that fully 62.9% of my bill went to the public school system. No. 2 in line? The community college system which collects 5.9% of the property tax I pay. I value education so, conceivably, these are reasonable.
Infuriatingly, however, there are eight — eight! — different entities collecting property taxes for pensions:
- Kane County (which presumably includes the guys in charge of the “multipler”).
- Kane Forest Preserve.
- Hampshire Township.
- Hamphire Township Road District.
- Hampshire Village.
- School District 300.
- Elgin College 509.
- Ella Johnson Library.
(For the uninitiated, pensions in Illinois are a sore subject. Here’s the short version: Public pensions are underfunded. This makes the pensioners mad because they were promised pensions; it makes tax payers mad because they don’t want to pay to fix problems, ahem, I mean fulfill promises previous politicians made. And those of us who work in the private sector are appalled at those who work in the public sector who retire in their 40s to collect a pension and then take another public sector position, thereby double-dipping on the public dime. Which is underfunded.)
In total, 3.5% of my property tax bill goes to pensions of one sort or another. This drives me crazy.
Which is perfect. Because spring in general with all its record-making weather has been crazy-making this year anyway, wouldn’t you say?