A group backed by a local elected official is organizing to oppose a property tax increase referendum that would benefit local developmentally disabled residents and appear on March ballots in Kane County.
Allen Skillicorn, an East Dundee village trustee and conservative radio host, said the purpose of his group is not to oppose help for developmentally disabled residents. The group opposes inefficient use of taxpayer money and an ill-timed increase to the local property tax burden, he said.
The referendum would generate about $12 million to improve services for residents with Down syndrome, autism and other disabilities. Some Illinois residents have waited 10 years or longer for services because of a backlog of demand and a shortage of funding. The proposed tax increase would add about $55 a year to the property tax bill on a $200,000 home.
Skillicorn said his group, "Vote NO to the Kane County 377 Tax Hike," believes the plan triggered by an approved referendum question is inefficient.
If the new tax is created, the Kane County Board would form a new commission that would set the actual tax rate to pull in the new funds and distribute the money. But Skillicorn points to the south end of the county where there are seven townships that already impose a tax on residents that, in part, benefits developmentally disabled residents.
There is also an umbrella organization, known as the INC Board, that administers the funds. About 13 percent of the money collected goes to administrative costs. That's a waste of money, Skillicorn said.
"Is creating another level of government the most efficient use of taxpayer money?" Skillicorn said. "Don't Kane County residents already pay enough property taxes? And, unfortunately, once the tax is levied and goes to the (service providers), you can't see where the checks go."
Skillicorn called on the county board and local residents to follow the call put out by county board Chairman Chris Lauzen when he ran for his position.
"The current board chairman ran and said he was not going to raise the tax levy, and that was very popular," Skillicorn said. "We all already pay $5,000 to $10,000 in property taxes every year. This is not just a one-time cost. This will be a recurring cost. The idea behind this referendum is an admirable goal. But we also have to be compassionate with homeowners in a foreclosure crisis and people on fixed income. The timing is not right on this."
Skillicorn said his group is "loosely organized" at the moment. He plans to ratchet up the opposition as the March election approaches.
There is also another potential obstacle to the passage of the tax increase that may come from Kane County officials themselves.
The county recently received a set of recommendations from a volunteer mental health advisory committee that called for the creation of a countywide board that would oversee funding for mental health and substance abuse services, not just developmental disabilities. But Kane County officials have taken no action on that recommendation as of yet.