From Illinois News Netw0rk
New numbers indicate some larger areas of the state are on the biggest population losers list, and the reasons vary from lost jobs, an aging population and even high property taxes. Among the top of the list–featuring areas like Decatur, Moline, and North Chicago — is Rockford, according to a report from Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies.
The report says that Rockford lost over 3,800 people, or 2.5 percent of their population, over the past four years. Republican Senator Dave Syverson says that could be from a variety of things.
“Some of the concerns that people have had about education and crime, we’ve seen people that have migrated out of Rockford.”
Syverson also says high property taxes could play a role in population decline, and Democratic Senator Steve Stadelman agrees that could be a determining factor.
“I think it’s probably easy to make the argument that when you have high property tax rates as we do in the Rockford area it certainly doesn’t help the situation.”
Stadelman says that Governor Bruce Rauner’s call to address property taxes could help the area reverse the worst in the state trend of population loss highlighted by the CGS study.
“Part of the Governor’s agenda has tried to address property taxes. I think that’s something we need to try to work with him on and try to find a way to decrease the cost for property tax owners in the Rockford area.”
Governor Rauner has proposed a property tax freeze that would be coupled with measures to help local governments control costs through addressing prevailing wage. Lawmakers have voted on several different property tax freeze proposals that did not include the local cost controls.
Meanwhile, the NIU study said that population loss could be a sign of job loss. Stadelman also says other measures could help Rockford’s jobs climate.
“I’m always certainly looking for ways to make us a more business friendly area and whatever that entails I’m certainly willing to consider.”
Regardless Stadelman said that Rockford was hit pretty hard during the recession.