Protesters pay Lake County taxes with dollar bills

A small group of suburban residents protested their rising property taxes Tuesday at the Lake County treasurer's office by paying with stacks of one-dollar bills.

Ten people participated in the orderly protest, organized by a group called Illinois Tax Revolution.

They wore matching white T-shirts depicting a dollar sign in a red circle with a diagonal line going through it.

Of the protesters, only a few actually paid their taxes with dollar bills Tuesday. Among them were Jon and Jennifer Groh of Spring Grove, who carried two leather bags containing $20,000 in banded stacks to the treasurer's office to pay a portion of the taxes owed on the rental properties they own.

"I would've brought more, but the bags were getting heavy," Jon Groh said.

Treasurer's office employee Patty Vargas slowly ran the stacks - each of which was supposed to contain $100 - through a bill counter to make sure the amounts were correct. It took 45 minutes, and the piles were a dollar short, so Jennifer Groh came up with another buck.

The Grohs said the tax bills on all their rental properties increased by $20,000 this year.

"And you can't pass that on to the tenant," Jon Groh said.

Round Lake resident Susana Rodriguez also paid her taxes with dollar bills. She said her son had to drop out of college because she could no longer afford tuition and property taxes.

"Each year, it goes higher and higher and higher," Rodriguez said of her property tax bill.

The deadline to pay the second installment of Lake County property taxes is Friday, so the treasurer's office was busier than usual. Customers who wanted to pay bills with checks, credit cards or higher cash denominations were directed to other employees rather than having to wait behind the protesters.

Bob Anderson, a Wonder Lake resident who's chairman of the Illinois Tax Revolution, said the protest wasn't aimed at Treasurer David Stolman but at the elected officials who serve on local government boards.

"If they were doing their jobs, I don't think we'd be in existence," Anderson said.

Stolman didn't mind the hullabaloo - or the influx of dollar bills.

"We're happy to accommodate, and we do it with a smile," he said.

A similar protest is planned for Wednesday at the McHenry County treasurer's office.

Lake County assessors clash over property value hikes

  Stacks of one-dollar bills wait to be counted Tuesday at the Lake County treasurer's office in Waukegan. Some people participating in an Illinois Tax Revolution protest paid their property taxes with one-dollar bills. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Some people protested rising property taxes by paying their taxes in one-dollar bills Tuesday at the Lake County treasurer's office in Waukegan. The orderly protest was organized by the Illinois Tax Revolution. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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