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posted: 10/24/2012 5:30 AM

Robocall awakens taxpayers to key Thursday vote

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A robocall to local residents late Monday afternoon clogged the Kane County switchboard with a tsunami of fears about property tax bills possibly increasing after key votes scheduled by the county board Thursday.

More than 200 calls came into the Kane County Board offices in just 90 minutes after a robocall that went out in various parts of the county. Some residents reported that the call indicated county board members were going to give themselves raises. Others reported the call urged them to contact board members and tell them not to vote to increase their taxes.

The recollection of those who received or heard about the call may have been hazy, but the organization behind the phone calls said their intention was clear.

"We wanted to be sure Kane County taxpayers are aware there's a vote coming up on the budget this week, and one of the early proposals was to raise the tax levy," said David From, the Illinois State Director of Americans For Prosperity.

The group is a nonprofit that describes itself as nonpartisan but has a history of backing and working with Republican candidates as well as receiving funding from known Republican supporters.

From said the robocall was part of a local initiative by the group to speak out on local issues that may have a large impact on taxes, and his local chapter may use robocalls or other methods to inform voters about pending tax increases in other localities in the near future.

"This is something that's really going to impact people's lives," From said of the pending Kane County tax levy. "We don't think that asking people to pay more money when their home values are going down is a good idea."

That is exactly what an early plan for the Kane County portion of the tax levy would have done. However, the current plan calls for an overall flat property tax levy for the county. The flat levy would neither increase, nor lower, the amount of property taxes paid to the county for most property owners.

The county's proposed tax levy does, however, include enough money to pay for raises for both union and nonunion county employees as well as assistant Kane County state's attorneys and public defenders. There is no provision to increase county board member salaries.

Finance Committee Chairman Jim Mitchell said county board salaries were frozen in 2010.

"If anyone is suggesting otherwise, they are obviously up to no good," Mitchell said.

The full county board will host a special meeting Thursday to vote on all of the county's tax levies.

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