81st House candidates Hose, Olsen disagree on property tax reform

Plans to make it tougher for local units of government to raise property taxes have proved divisive among state legislators and candidates, including the two seeking the representative position in the 81st House District.

Democrat Greg Hose said he would "wholeheartedly support" a measure to freeze property taxes charged by some local governments when property values decline, such as the bill Republican Ron Sandack was trying to push before he resigned the 81st District seat.

The bill would have frozen how much school districts and other local governments can collect in property taxes. It would have protected their right to ask voters to approve higher taxes and it would have exempted municipalities that have home-rule authority.

Hose's view differs from Republican state Rep. David Olsen, who says he has concerns about how a property tax freeze would work and about state government saddling local units with rules but no money to follow them.

Hose and Olsen are competing in the Nov. 8 election to represent the 81st District, which includes all or parts of Downers Grove, Darien, Lisle, Bolingbrook, Naperville, Westmont and Woodridge in DuPage and Will counties.

Hose, a 35-year-old attorney and Downers Grove village commissioner, said he would support a freeze on local property taxes levied by school districts "if it comes along with additional funding from the state." He said more state support for schools could come from a millionaire's tax, not from upcharges on the property taxes of middle-class families.

"We shouldn't allow government to treat our homes like ATMs," he said.

Olsen, 28, a College of DuPage trustee and former Downers Grove village commissioner, also is pushing for reforms to the state's property tax system. But as a "strong supporter of local control," Olsen, who was appointed to the 81st District seat July 30 after Sandack's resignation, says he's wary of the state giving another rule to local governing bodies.

He said property tax reform should focus on ensuring seniors can remain in their homes, where they require fewer state resources than they would in other living situations. It also should aim to decrease complexities, he said.

"The whole system tends to advantage people with the time or the means to go and appeal their values, to go and participate in the process," Olsen said. "That's a process that I think is really broken."

Olsen, however, said local governments still should retain the authority to raise funding as they see fit when they have needs to address.

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