Coles Co. (ECWd) -
In the time of electronic access, we now have the opportunity to research, fact check, and publish information at a pace that most people never imagined. That being the case, we are still amazed at the number of people who read something in the paper and instead of fact-checking the message they believe it.
Today we read a letter sent to the local paper by the former Coles County Board member and once Chairman Mike Weaver. With the election right around the corner, it was no surprise to see the title of his letter. "Support current county board members", short for "keep the old guard."
Let's research the statements made by Mike Weaver (MW), fact-check them, and publish our findings:
MW: "The Coles County Board has been confronted by a small but vocal group of commercial property owners for quite a while now. The group has continually expressed their unhappiness with the fact that commercial property assessments were being brought up to date after sixteen years."
The Concerned Taxpayers of Coles County has been vocal for over a year but let's set the record straight. They are not just commercial property owners, nor a small group. They are also homeowners and farmers who want one thing, proper application of the law. Their expressed unhappiness is not about assessments being brought up to date after sixteen years. Anyone that believes that has been out of touch for the last 16 months where this issue is being addressed at every county board meeting. The issue is non-uniformed assessments in the county. A fact that this very county board has already admitted and done nothing about to fix. So right out of the box, Mr. Weaver's first paragraph is easily disproven and is simply false but don't take my word. Simply read the letter the current county board Chairman sent the legislature where they confirm the non-uniform assessment situation.
While Mr. Weaver suggests to the readers you should keep the current county board, think about his acknowledgment in that first paragraph. He claimed people's unhappiness was based on assessments being brought up to date after sixteen years? Is this not confirmation that the very people in office right now we're not doing their job for sixteen years? Let that soak in.
Why were assessments supposedly not being done while Mr. Weaver was in charge? Yep, the guy telling you to keep the old guard is, in fact, part of the problem that put the Coles County taxpayers into this mess by allowing people to not do their job in our opinion.
MW: "Residential property is the responsibility of township and multi-township assessors while farmland is kept current by a productivity value established at the state level."
No, Mr. Weaver, that is not true. Other than key exemptions listed below, all property is the responsibility of Township and Multi'Township assessors. We know those responsible did their job and turned in their assessment paperwork every year. How do we know? Because every year the County signed off on the letter to the state confirming that all assessments are true and accurate. That being the case, the claim assessments have not been done for sixteen years is false.
What has happened, under the failed leadership of the current and past county board, is allowing a Supervisor of Assessments to not do their job and load the data provided to them by the local assessors. To claim assessments have not been done is simply not true and all you have to do is ask those Township Assessors! What is true, for sixteen years the Coles County Board has been paying people who did not do their job!
MW: "Commercial property is the responsibility of the county board appointed Supervisor of Assessment."
No, Mr. Weaver, that is not true. Don't take my word for it though. Just read the law on Supervisor of Assessment. There is no delegation of responsibility to that office for Commercial property. In fact, the word "commercial" does not even appear in the law outlining the obligations of that office.
The delegation of assessment authority is specifically outlined in 35 ILCS 200/9-70 and it says:
"Assessment authority. The Department (Dept. of Revenue) shall assess all pollution control facilities, low sulfur dioxide emission coal fueled devices, and property owned or used by railroad companies operating within this State, except noncarrier real estate. Local assessment officers shall assess all other property not exempted from taxation"
MW:"State law requires the Supervisor to keep commercial property assessments current on a quadrennial basis."
The law requires local assessment officers to assess ALL property not exempted from taxation every fourth year beginning from 1995. Don't take our word for it, read the law here, which states:
"Except as provided in Sections 9-220 and 9-225, in counties having the township form of government and with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants, the general assessment years shall be 1995 and every fourth year thereafter."
MW: "It would be, in my opinion, unlawful for the county board to prevent the Supervisor from doing quadrennial assessments."
No one has EVER implied that there should not be quadrennial assessments. Clearly, Mr. Weaver is out of touch with what is actually happening as it relates to the assessments. What is unlawful, and confirmed by the county board's own letter to the Legislature, is performing non-uniform assessments, which is what happens when they set up the county into four taxing districts and did so without first ensuring those districts did not share taxing services.
MW: "So it seems logical that they would need to support the Supervisor with resources to meet the state's requirements"
And we agree that they, the county board, need to support the Supervisor with resources to meet the state's requirements. We totally agree, however, that is not what has happened. The law is very clear on the County Board's obligations when it comes to those needed resources and they never followed it! In fact, we challenge anyone to show us where this current county board followed the law when they contracted with a local appraiser to do the work of the Supervisor of Assessments.
We published this article that exposed the violation and included the case law to prove it. The law is well settled, you cant use taxpayer funds to contract with a person to do the work of another appointed official who is getting paid to do that job! That is what this current county board is doing!
MW: "Their county board candidates are running with the intent to impede the Supervisors assessment of commercial property."
No, Mr. Weaver, that is not true. The candidates running are running with the intent to protect the taxpayers by ensuring the rule of law is followed. Anyone that has attended or watched the numerous county board meetings knows this group is asking for one thing, follow the law. Assessments are to be done uniformly and this very county board already confirmed it was not. Truth, transparency, and rule of law is the platform they are running on. Don't take our word for it though! Do your own research and watch their videos on their Facebook page found at this link. If you need more info, read all the articles here on what this current county board has done or not done. They include hundreds of hours of research material to support what is written.
MW: "Without current assessments on all properties, the taxing system breaks down and favors one classification of owners over others."
Mr. Weaver, we totally agree! And what has happened with the current County Board and their actions, they voted to establish four taxing districts, which is legal but failed to ensure two things. The first being the assessment of the entire county before breaking it up into those districts. The second being the establishment of districts that have overlapping public services, like a school. Those in one taxing district get assessed and pay taxes for that public school while those in another taxing district did not, yet they have the same access to those services. Hardly equal protection under the law.
"MW": They are seeking to give preferential treatment to commercial property owners at a cost to residential and farmland owners.
That statement sounds like it's right out of the political handbook 101. Pander to the populace (residential owners) and imply a false narrative in order to gain votes. The statement by Mr. Weaver is completely fabricated and anyone can watch the videos of dozens of meetings to see for themselves, this is NOT what these County Board Candidates are seeking.
MW: "I am very proud that the current board is supporting our Supervisors efforts to apply the same standards to all classifications of real estate. After all, it's only fair.
Why anyone would be proud of the illegal actions of this board is beyond me. Mr. Weaver, it is neither fair or legal for this County Board to contract with a private person and pay them $115,000.00 of taxpayer money to do the job of the Supervisor of Assessments, who is also paid by the taxpayers. That is what this current County Board did in order to "support" the Supervisor's efforts. How anyone can view that as fair is beyond me. Or should we ask, fair to who?
MW: "I urge Republican voters in Coles County to stay the course and vote Daily, Metzher, Purdy, and Doughty for Coles County Board."
While Mr. Weaver urges Republican voters in Coles County to stay the course and vote for those that created this mess, we urge people to do their homework and not listen to what is printed in a letter to the Editor without first fact checking what is said.
We also urge you to not listen to us, but rather fact check us right along with everyone else, and that urging is not just targeted to a political party. We urge "voters" to vote smart.
Vote Smart People!