Forum: Senate opposes exemption crackdown
June 8, 2012 8:30PM
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:24AM
When the Illinois Senate adjourned, it left $105 million on the table by failing to vote on legislation that would have allowed county assessors to go after people claiming erroneous property exemptions.
Senators complained about cutting education funds but thumbed their noses at a bill that would have provided much revenue to their school districts. Republican senators, as well as some Democrats, were influenced by the Illinois Realtors Association. I find it hard to believe they would walk away from so much revenue.
House Bill 506 passed the House, but a preliminary roll call showed that many senators weren’t in favor of it. The bill would allow county assessors to recover back taxes and penalize those who abuse the system by receiving multiple homeowner exemptions.
LexisNexis, one of several companies that analyze exemption fraud data, estimated that $105 million would be recovered statewide in one year — more than $60 million in Cook County alone.
My office recently investigated a case in which a Realtor in Cook County obtained homeowner exemption on each of eight properties he owns. He saved himself more than $80,000 over the past seven years. He cheated because he can — there’s no state law that allows county assessors to recover this money. We can only remove their future exemptions.
This practice must be stopped. I plan to continue to fight for HB 506 and hope the Senate calls it for a vote during the Legislature’s veto session. I encourage all Cook County taxpayers to call their senators to urge a “yes” vote on this important legislation.
Cook County assessor
Favor Crete detention center
We hope that Crete Mayor Michael Einhorn and village trustees will continue to act in the village’s best interest regarding the proposed immigrant detention center.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is creating such centers to house alleged illegal immigrants until they have a civil hearing to determine if they should be deported. We welcome the idea of one being located in our area.
To have the center’s proposed operator, Corrections Corporation of America, bring jobs to the area, both in building and subsequently operating the center, more property tax revenue to the village and possible new revenue to area businesses makes economic sense. The center is going to be built somewhere, so why not in Crete?
Some opponents of the center say there are better and more humane ways to deal with this population. However, we believe that this type of facility would treat illegal immigrants much more humanely than having them locked up with hardened criminals, as sometimes occurs now.
We understand that there are no firm commitments from either ICE or CCA at this time but hope that something definitive will be forthcoming soon so this project might proceed.
Jim and Linda Schelinski