EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan on Monday called for true property tax reform in Madison County and throughout Illinois to provide taxpayers with much-needed relief.
“In Madison County and throughout the state of Illinois, the burden of funding the numerous taxing districts is increasingly, and unfairly, being put on the backs of taxpayers through the payment of property taxes,” Dunstan said.
According to Dunstan, property tax reform is needed to address education funding from the state, eliminate unfunded mandates imposed on school districts and local governments, and control costs, including the streamlining and sharing of governmental services.
Dunstan said one of the largest drivers of rising property taxes is attributed to inadequate state funding for public education.
“The Illinois Constitution requires the state provide for the primary funding for public education,” he said. “The state does not meet this obligation, only providing 28 percent, forcing school districts to rely on property taxes to pay for public education. Since the school education taxes represent the largest portion of the property tax bill, the level of state funding for education has had a significant impact on rising property taxes in Madison County.”
Dunstan also stated all local taxing bodies need to be held accountable for their actions.
“Every taxing body in Madison County needs to be transparent when considering increasing property taxes,” he said.
Taxing bodies are only required to place an advertisement in a newspaper prior to holding a public hearing increasing property taxes more than 5 percent. The hearings are typically not well-attended by taxpayers.
“It should be required that taxpayers are directly notified by mail of any pending tax increase at least 30 days prior to a vote of the respective board,” Dunstan said. “This will help assure taxpayers have a voice in their government.”
The chairman also announced he is asking the Madison County Board to place two advisory referendums on the November ballot. The first referendum addresses state funding support for education and a permanent reduction in property taxes, while the second referendum addresses a requirement that property tax increase notices be mailed directly to taxpayers.
“It is important our residents have the opportunity to share their opinions, through their vote, on these important issues,” Dunstan said. “This will help send a message to Springfield that property tax reform is needed in Illinois. And it is absolutely essential that the state fulfills its constitutional obligation to provide primary funding for education. That alone would provide significant property tax relief to taxpayers.”
According to Dunstan, additional reforms are needed. The chairman cited his Property Tax Reform Report, which he published with the help of a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel of businessmen and women, community leaders and elected officials that extensively studied property tax reform.
Dunstan has presented the report to state organizations and provided testimony to the Illinois Legislature. The report provides a detailed analysis of problems with the state’s property tax system and makes recommendations. A list of other recommendations are included in the report, available at co.madison.il.us.
Dunstan said in Madison County, officials have reduced the county’s portion of property taxes.
“Madison County government is leading by example,” he said. “We have a balanced budget and operate within our means, unlike the state and federal governments.”
Dunstan has streamlined county government, operating with 25 percent fewer employees than when he became chairman. “By being more efficient and utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Madison County has been able to reduce our workforce will still providing our residents with the outstanding service they deserve,” he said. “We have been able to accomplish this without jeopardizing public safety.
“As chairman, I am very proud of what has been accomplished in Madison County,” he said. “The county is 100 percent debt-free and is in a strong financial position.”