Danville, Waukegan, Normal, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich, Elgin, Peoria, Normal are just a few of many I’ve seen reported in the last two days. The list goes on from communities large and small in Illinois, all scraping for more revenue. Sorry to you readers who sent others we haven’t printed. If we linked to all of them, our homepage would be overwhelmed with the same story.
It’s already beyond crisis. Illinois already has the highest property tax rates in the nation. Further increases will accelerate the death spiral. Municipalities have very limited options beyond property taxes. Some are looking at taxes on restaurants, ambulance services or higher vehicle registration charges, but it won’t be enough. Many of these communities need bankruptcy authorization from the state.
One interesting approach is Decatur. In hopes of sending a message to state lawmakers, they just went ahead and passed a budget with a $3.2 million deficit, hoping it represents a big “help” sign.
What these communities need is lower costs, and that means an end to unfunded mandates from Springfield, real pension reform and the right to file for bankruptcy if needed. Respecting unfunded mandates, be sure to see the article this week by Illinois Policy’s economist on the cost and economic effects of outdated prevailing wage rules forced on municipalities by Springfield.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.