EDWARDSVILLE — The Madison County Electoral Review Board has voted unanimously to approve petitions for a referendum to reduce Madison County’s maximum tax rate.
The referendum will now be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot. In a press release, Republican elected officials and candidates hailed the decision.
“The objection and hearing was a cumbersome process that seemed very unnecessary, but ultimately, we’re glad that the taxpayers will have a chance to vote on this issue,” County Board candidate Kathy Goclan of Granite City said. “That was our ultimate goal: to give taxpayers a voice.”
The “right to petition” the government is guaranteed by the First Amendment to “redress grievances.” In May, a grassroots effort initiated by Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler sought to petition county government to reduce the maximum general fund property tax rate from 0.25 cents to 0.20 cents.
“Illinois law makes the petition process especially challenging by requiring an extraordinary amount of signatures to be collected on petitions in a very short period of time,” said Prenzler, who is running for County Board chairman in November. “It’s an overwhelming task to collect this huge number of signatures that involved more than 125 people circulating petitions and that’s why most people give up before they even get started.”
Those supporting the effort collected nearly 10,000 signatures to put the referendum on the ballot.
Based on the county’s 10-year average of 0.22 cents, the owner of a $100,000 home would save about $7 per year if the referendum passes.
Critics of the proposal, including County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan and State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, say it will force the county to cut 28 to 47 jobs paid for through the general fund, including law enforcement positions. The tax cut would cost the county about $1.3 million per year.
The three-member electoral review panel determined July 6 that enough petition signatures were valid.