Board chairman proposes longer waiver for late fees, interest for second installment of property taxes
Just two days after Republican McHenry County Board members announced a proposal to waive late fees and interest on property tax payments for 45 days, county board Chairman Jack Franks, along with four Democratic board members, proposed a resolution to double that period to 90 days.
The initial proposal, which passed through the finance and audit committee Thursday morning, would not give taxpayers enough extra time to pay the second installment of this year's property taxes, Franks said in a news release Thursday afternoon.
"While I applaud the effort to give property owners struggling under the economic burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a 45-day reprieve isn't enough," Franks said in the release. "We approved a 90-day waiver for the first installment, so there's no reason why we can't approve a 90-day waiver for this second one."
Franks proposed the resolution along with board members Paula Yensen, Michael Vijuk, Carlos Acosta and Kelli Wegener.
Under this new resolution, late fees and interest on property tax payments would be waived until Dec. 15, rather than Oct. 31 as the initial proposal suggested, according to the release.
In an interview Thursday, board member John Reinert, who wrote the proposal for the original 45-day waiver, said he would support a 90-day waiver as long as that extended time frame would not disrupt the work of the McHenry County treasurer's office.
The property tax sale date set by county Treasurer Glenda Miller is Nov. 16, meaning all property tax payments for the year must be collected before that date, Miller said in an interview Thursday evening.
This was the reasoning behind proposing a 45-day waiver, rather than something longer, Reinert said.
If the 90-day waiver is passed by the board, Miller said she has the authority to push the tax sale date back to allow residents to pay the second installment of property taxes anytime before Dec. 15 without penalty. She said the board should come to an agreement on the waiver as soon as possible so she can begin to rearrange her timeline and so taxpayers can be notified in a timely manner.
The chairman will call a special meeting of the county board to vote on this new resolution sometime before the committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, rather than waiting until the regular board meeting on Sept. 15, which is the day property tax bills are due.
"The waiver proposed by Mr. Reinert could be better, and we could have worked together to improve it and to pass it earlier to give homeowners peace of mind rather than vote on it the day the bill is due and after the Treasurer's Office closes for the day," Franks said in the release. "I tried numerous times to reach out to him to fix this flawed proposal, but he never responded back."
Reinert pushed back on this assertion and said he did keep the chairman in the loop about his proposal, which he said was intended to serve as something to "start the discussion" around easing the burden on taxpayers.
The original deadline of Oct. 31 is a Saturday when the county treasurer's office is closed, making it difficult for residents to be able to make payments on that day, according to the release.
The waiver of late fees and interest would not apply to property taxes are paid through escrow, according to the release.
The first installment of this year's property taxes were due June 15, but the county board voted at the end of April to allow residents to pay that first bill anytime before Sept. 15 without penalty.
Now, having the payment date of both property tax bills set for the same day could pose a challenge for struggling taxpayers unless some kind of waiver can be passed, according to the release.