Franks: No more taxes when property values dip

SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Jack Franks is pushing legislation that would prohibit local governments like school districts from asking for more property taxes in years when property values go down.

Franks’ plan targets a 1990s law that now caps how much more tax money school districts, villages and others can ask for in an effort to keep tax bills from spiking in a given year.

But Franks argues that they shouldn’t be allowed to ask for more property taxes at a time when local homeowners have seen the values of their homes drop, often significantly.

“They took as much as they can get,” he said.

The populist pitch has already been approved by a House committee in Springfield and could be debated by lawmakers next week. With the legislature scheduled to meet only three more days in 2011, full approval would almost certainly have to wait until next year.

And approval faces staunch opposition from many local governments, who argue they need the money to keep up with expenses.

Illinois Municipal League legislative director Joe McCoy said that taking away revenue from local governments could drive them into the same fiscal crisis the state faces, especially because many of their costs are fixed by state requirements.

“What he’s going to do over the long term is create more financial problems for local government,” McCoy said.

Franks, though, says government needs to cut back and might find a sympathetic ear among lawmakers who hear complaints about high property taxes.

“Local governments are not immune to what’s happening in the world,” Franks said.

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