Madison County tax vote won’t actually reduce taxes; county auditor agrees
By CARL GREEN
Edwardsville, IL – When is a tax cut not really a tax cut? When nobody’s taxes actually go down.
Labor-endorsed Democratic candidate for Madison County board chairman Bob Daiber said that is exactly what incumbent Board Chair, Republican Kurt Prenzler, is trying to pull off in the November election.
The county board voted nearly unanimously last week to approve placing a referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot that, if passed, would lower the county’s maximum property tax rate from .20 percent to .18 percent per $100 of assessed value.
But it’s unlikely Prenzler’s proposal will change much for taxpayers if it passes.
The county’s current tax rate stands at .163 percent –– below the proposed cap –– so taxpayers wouldn’t see any actual change unless the county also changed its tax rate.
Prenzler might take credit for a tax cut, Daiber says, but nobody’s taxes would actually go down.
“It is clear this is just another political stunt to aid Kurt Prenzler’s struggling re-election campaign,” Daiber said. “Prenzler used this same campaign message in 2016 to fool taxpayers into believing he was going to reduce their tax levy by 10 percent. If he was serious about helping taxpayers, Prenzler would have kept his word and reduced the levy to .15, just as he promised in his 2016 campaign.”
MEANINGLESS CAMPAIGN CLAIM
Although the proposal to place the resolution on the ballot passed easily, with both Democrats and Republicans voting for it, some board members questioned the wisdom of tying the hands of future boards to deal with emergencies, such as a major employer shutting down, in exchange for a meaningless campaign claim this year.
“This isn’t a real cost-effective savings for anybody,” said board member Mike Parkinson, a Granite City police officer. “This is just a political ploy.”
Chris Hankins (D-Pontoon Beach) an assistant business manager in IBEW Local 309, noted the new levy limit, if it ever comes into play, would have a minuscule effect – about 75 cents a month on Hankins’ own property.
“I can’t even buy a can of soda for that,” he said. “Right now we’re not going to save anything. It sounds like we will, but we won’t.”
Parkinson added, “For a city like Granite City, all it takes is one thing like the steel mill going down and we’d have to look to the county for some type of assistance in our time of need. This referendum is going to give voters a false pretense that it’s going to save them a lot of money.”
AUDITOR NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK
During the video meeting, Prenzler twice refused to allow the county’s elected auditor, Rick Faccin, a Democrat, to even speak, saying he wanted to hear from board members instead. When all the board members had had their say, some numerous times, Prenzler again refused to let Faccin speak, even though board members asked for him to.
“I’m going to call roll call. We’ve had enough discussion,” Prenzler said.
In an interview, Faccin called the resolution “meaningless” and said it would have little effect because other taxing districts, such as roads and bridges or school districts, account for much of the tax bills. The general fund pays for county offices and employees.
“The resolution is nothing but a political ploy to help Prenzler’s re-election campaign,” Faccin told the Labor Tribune. “Kurt Prenzler does not deserve another four years.”
Faccin is completing his term but not running for re-election. East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood is the endorsed Democratic nominee for the position.
MAN WITH A PLAN
Daiber said he is developing a plan to provide actual tax relief.
“It is easy to make political promises to get elected, but it is a whole lot more difficult to deliver solid policy change,” he said. “As chairman, I’ll focus on the work necessary to achieve real results for taxpayers, not on political headlines. That’s why, in the coming weeks, I’ll be releasing a detailed plan to provide real relief to taxpayers.”
He added, “If Kurt Prenzler wasn’t so distracted by the scandals and corruption of his administration, he would have time to focus on delivering real property tax reform, not just rhetoric.”