Editorial: Voting for a 20% increase?

July 1, 1993

Get ready for a 20 percent increase, that’s right a 20 percent increase, in Winnebago County taxes.

The proposed county budget for this year is hovering around $117 million, according to County Board Member Pete MacKay (R-5). He was as surprised when we told him that would mean the following: If the proposed referendum for the county jail, et al, passes, the 1 percent sales tax is supposed to bring in around $23 million per year. Do the math—23 divided by 117 equals 0.196558119658. Yes, that’s a 20 percent increase.

So that little 1 percent sales increase is a misnomer; it’s really 20 percent overall.

Then add in the fun fact to know and tell that, with interest, the supposed $130 million dollar proposal will cost taxpayers $500 million—half a billion dollars!

Then look at your property tax bill. Supposedly, property in Winnebago County increased in value about 3 percent. Do you think your property value

went up that much? On the average, with

all the floating multipliers, that’s what

you were charged. But, hey! We have the most affordable housing

in the country! Yup. They left out the tax rate, and you thought the burden imposed by the illegal tort tax for the school deseg case had been lifted. Grunt again.

Then add in the 8000 parcels of land in Winnebago county that have not paid their property taxes. That’s 23 percent higher than last year.

Then add in the fact that sales are down across Winnebago County, and that revenue drop is the reason for all the cost cutting State’s Attorney Logli and Sheriff Meyers are ballyhooing about.

County shell game?

The latest move by Winnebago County officials regarding the new jail program certainly appears suspicious, to say the least.

The satellite jail has been closed and the D.A.R.E. program is nixed. Phil Pash hit it on the head last week when he termed it a transparent move and a scare tactic to get a favorable vote on the jail.

Now we have the county saying it will scale back the number of beds in our new jail. But officials weren’t willing to scale back the amount of taxes they want to levy.

What happens to the extra money? From this vantage point. it seems the problem is not the jail, but the courts. How many times have we all heard that more than 80 percent of those in the jail are awaiting trial or a hearing? As the sheriff has several times noted, the jail is only one link in the chain and probably not the weakest one.

So let’s take the load off the officers who have to arrest and rearrest, and take the load off the county jail. Don’t build a new jail. Put money into the courts and support staff to eliminate the 80 percent awaiting trial in our jail. Such common sense surely would produce a lower cost figure, acceptable to voters; and our jail would only have to hold the remaining 20 percent, which it easily can handle.

Every part of the justice system has its excuses as to why it is not working to full capacity, but no one wants to tackle the real problem. Something is rotten in Denmark to say the least—the taxes and math stink.

Continuing stench

The deal that really reeks wafts up the Perryville Road extension, the skunk that would not die. Roscoe residents don’t want their property taken or the traffic. They thought they had it beat. Yet Sunil Puri & company have bought the land, and they want the road. Don’t you people know who runs this town and county! The slick glamour of development demands your tax dollars, and Machesney Park President Linda Vaughn is glad to make her village the living room for more urban sprawl. That’s one endorsement this paper wishes it didn’t make, and won’t again. We thought she would stand up for the taxpayers, not walk on them. How are you going to pay for that road, Linda? Think you can do it with higher taxes in Machesney Park? State money? Good luck to us all.

Winnebago County Board Chairman/Candidate for Secretary of State Kris Cohn still wants the road, too. Her race is very expensive, never mind how much it will eventually cost all of us. Kudos to the Register Star’s Chad Anderson, he hit the ethics nail right on the head in his column on Cohn!

We’ll see if any of the Winnebago County board members have any ethics or really listen to their constituents. Some of them are lame ducks. Will their vote be crippling to our economic future and standard of living? If they do, it’s time for another “Wanted for the Betrayal of the Public Trust” poster on our front page.

Retailers—all businesses should be up in arms because all of these tax increases mean less disposable income to be spent in their business. Yes, our government officials are doing their best to make the recession deeper and longer.

If the county board breaks to Vaughn, Cohn and Puri’s will, look forward to an increase in taxes that is more than 20 percent. Look forward to our existing roads that need repairs remaining the same.

Also, look for more calls to the moving van lines, if they can avoid the potholes and sinking, unopen roads. Remember to vote.

Senior Editor Joe Baker contributed to this editorial.

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