LaSalle Co. (ECWd) -
In what appears to be a clear case of defiance against the law and taxpayers, the Bruce Township Trustees have sent a letter out in a futile attempt to skirt the real issue they are faced with, over-taxation.
A recent change in the Township Code that we helped spearhead through exposure of Shelbyville Township's hoarding of funds, limits the amount of money they can stockpile. With well over the 2.5X multiplier, the Bruce Township Supervisor has taken the position he is going to give it to those who he deems needy in the way of an Emergency Assistance payment instead of under it's intended purpose of General Assistance. We wrote about that in this article.
60 ILCS 1/85-65 Accumulation of funds. Township funds, excluding the township's capital fund, shall not exceed an amount equal to or greater than 2.5 times the annual average expenditure of the previous 3 fiscal years.
The letter they sent to the media provides an inside look on how things are done in Bruce Township. For starters, at what meeting did this letter get discussed and approved for circulation to the media? An Attorney General PAC request for review has been filed on that matter.
In the letter they claim, "Mr. Steve Biroschik and Mr. David Giuliani along with his articles recommend that money be refunded but without having a clear formula to do so".
Message to the Trustees: It is not the job of Steve Biroschik and Mr. David Giuliani to provide you with a clear formula to do so................because the State Law already provides that direction here, and here.
The fact we once again have to point to our laws and provide direction for elected officials on how to do their job is yet another reason this state is in the mess it's in.
Formula from the law:
- "In determining the proportionate share of each owner of homestead property, the numerator shall be the amount of taxes on homestead property paid by that owner to the taxing district under the most recent tax bill, and the denominator shall be the aggregate total of all taxes on homestead property paid by all owners to the taxing district under the most recent tax bills."
- "In determining the proportionate share of each owner of commercial or industrial property, the numerator shall be the amount of taxes on commercial or industrial property paid by that owner to the taxing district under the most recent tax bill, and the denominator shall be the aggregate total of all taxes on commercial or industrial property paid by all owners to the taxing district under the most recent tax bills less taxes paid on commercial or industrial property located in a tax increment financing district and taxes paid on an apartment building."
What the township trustee letter tells us, is they either have no competent legal advice, or have no clue what they are doing.
"How would you decide who gets the refund, the current owner or should it be EVERY owner that owned that property over the last 10 years? That could possibly be several checks to be issued for a single property. In addition, other factors to consider would be changes in assessments and exemptions. "
Again, read the law to answer your own questions:
- "Each owner of taxable homestead property shall receive a proportionate share of the total disbursement based on the amount of ad valorem taxes on taxable homestead property paid by the owner to the taxing district under the most recent tax bill."
Reading the law it is clear changes in assessments and exemptions are not a factor with the exception of a TIF district, and in those cases, they have a procedure to follow as well.
It is becoming very clear with this misinformation campaign and push back from the Trustees, that this board has no plans on doing the right thing and giving the taxpayers their money back. Instead, they intend on giving it to whomever they choose in an Emergency Assistance program. Such a path sends a message to the taxpayers, it's their money, not yours! We say, wrong answer!
"...we feel the fairest way to lower our General Assistance Fund is to initiate the Emergency Assistance Fund and not levy for the General Assistance Fund until it is substantially reduced. This should lower the tax rate for Bruce Township."
Fairest way? Is not following the law the fairest way? Doing that takes out the "feelings" they point to as their reasoning. Doing things the way they feel would not bring them into compliance with the law and subject them to legal action by the taxpayers.
I wonder what they will feel when they are faced with a taxpayer lawsuit or a writ of mandamus to force them to follow the law.
The last statement about not levying General Assistance and claiming it would lower the tax rate for Bruce Township once again points to ignorance of our tax laws. The rate is set for the Township and does not change just because you have not levied for General Assistance. The only thing that would change is they would not be hoarding $21,000.00 from the taxpayers.
We understand elections have consequences so let this be a message to Bruce Township voters. Vote in ignorance, you get what you voted for.