State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) introduced Senate Bill 2670 to allow voters in counties under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), the state’s property tax cap law, the ability to reduce their property taxes via referendum—something only voters in counties not subject to PTELL’s tax caps are allowed to do.
“The data indicates that since 1990 property taxes have increased faster in counties with tax caps than in those without them. It seems that voters giving up the ability to go to referendum to lower their property taxes in exchange for property tax caps has actually resulted in higher property taxes, not lower,” Sen. McConchie said.
McConchie notes that this bill alone certainly won’t fix Illinois’ flawed property tax system, but he says it would undoubtedly give voters more control over out-of-control local governments via the property tax levy, which is something McConchie says could greatly benefit homeowners in PTELL counties throughout the state.
“We need to make it easier for voters to regain control over the nearly 7,000 units of local government by giving them back the tool they used to have; the ability reduce the tax these governments are allowed to levy.”
PTELL was first put into place in 1990. It first applied to the suburban Chicago counties and slowly expanded over the years. Currently Cook and the collar counties are subject to PTELL limitations as well as about forty percent of other counties across the state.
In PTELL counties, a local government can only increase yearly tax revenues up to 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Voters can vote to raise their property taxes above the cap, but are not allowed to go to referendum to lower them. In non-PTELL counties, voters have both the ability to raise and lower their own property taxes via referendum.
Senate Bill 2670 outlines the petition and voting requirements that would be needed to place the question on the ballot in PTELL counties. A petitioner must obtain signatures of at least ten percent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election within that taxing district. The proposition needs a simple majority to pass. The proposal mirrors current law for non-PTELL counties.
SB 2670 has been assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee. Other sponsors of the bill include State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville), State Senator Tom Rooney (R-Palatine), State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove), and State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst).