The McHenry County Board could soon be a step closer to fulfilling one of Chairman Jack Franks' most noteworthy campaign promises: to cut the property tax levy by 10 percent.
A resolution expected to be considered by board members Tuesday would serve as their commitment to implement such a reduction next fiscal year. If approved, the measure would also create a 12-member ad hoc committee on tax reduction, tasked with determining how to meet that goal without negatively affecting services.
"We need to set goals if we're ever going to get anything done," Franks said. "That's what good, healthy organizations do."
The county, which has more than 300,000 residents, is levying about $79.3 million in property taxes this year, documents show. A 10 percent cut would reduce the tax levy by $7.9 million for fiscal year 2018, which begins Dec. 1.
The proposal, first drafted by Franks and board member Andrew Gasser of Fox River Grove, initially set the 10 percent tax levy reduction as a mandate. Worried its wording would leave little leeway for future changing circumstances, board member Michael Skala of Huntley rewrote the resolution as a goal rather than a requirement.
"I felt it achieved the same purpose but gave future boards much more flexibility in making decisions as time goes on," he said. Skala is also chairman of the county board's audit and finance committee, which approved his version of the proposal earlier this month.
Still, some board members, such as Donna Kurtz of Crystal Lake, believe the county would be jumping the gun by adopting the resolution before developing a strategic plan.
"What concerns me about this approach ... is it kind of gives me the sense of a buzz saw mentality. We're just going to cut, cut cut," she said. "Until we sit down and brainstorm this, I think we end up taking a very narrow path that ends up potentially reducing the value we offer to the county."
Franks, however, said the point of the ad hoc committee is to address those concerns and determine the most efficient way to reduce county spending. The group includes Franks, who would be committee chairman; the chairs of the county board's eight standing committees; and board members Chris Christensen, James Kearns and Thomas Wilbeck. Skala would serve as vice chairman.
The ad hoc committee would present its findings and recommendations to the full county board, Franks said, at which point other board members would get a chance to weigh in.
"This is transparent, it's open ... and it's something that's desperately needed," he said. "I think we need to set those goals and move forward."