Lake County Board asked to waive late property tax penalties

Four local state legislators have asked the Lake County Board to waive penalties for late payment of the first installment of property taxes.

Democrats Rita Mayfield of Waukegan, Dan Didech of Buffalo Grove, Bob Morgan of Deerfield and Joyce Mason of Gurnee in a news release Thursday urged the county board to provide relief to residents facing economic turmoil as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislators said state law gives the county board "wide-ranging" powers when the county is declared a disaster area. Legislators say the declaration triggers the county board's power to waive penalties and urged it to do that for the June installment.

The Lake County collector is bound by state law to collect a 1.5% penalty per month on any unpaid installment balance after the due dates.

Didech said Friday the COVID-19 economic impact will be staggering and waiving late fees for a period of time is a "common-sense measure" to provide some relief while ensuring local governments have money for services.

"We have to be careful to do this in a way not to sacrifice (services) but give people some peace of mind," he said. Those who can make their payment on time should do so, he added.

The county board's financial and administrative committee is expected to consider the matter at its meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 16.

Board Chair Sandy Hart said that while the county treasurer collects the money, it is disbursed to various taxing bodies. She said the county's portion of a tax bill is about 7% and it needs to be mindful of any "unintended consequences" for the taxing bodies that get the other 93%.

"We want to do what we can to help our residents in this crisis and we don't want to make the situation worse by delaying payments that could impact payroll or essential services provided by other government agencies," she said.

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