Metro East homeowners take bridge to property tax relief
All most Metro East Illinoisans have to do to see a huge cut in their property taxes is cross the Mississippi River, the Illinois Policy Institute argued recently.
“The Metro East and the rest of Illinois, which has one of the highest overall property tax burdens in the country, need real property tax relief if it is ever going to stem the tide of out-migration to states with significantly more affordable property tax bills,” Eric Kohn, marketing manager for the institute, wrote on its website.
Kohn suggested that the high tax rates are one reason many Illinoisans are leaving for Missouri, where homeowners can expect property tax rates of an average of 2.25 times lower. A previous report from the institute noted that Illinois experienced a net loss of 8,520 residents to Missouri in 2015. While the state managed to attract 15,000 people from Missouri, nearly 24,000 Illinoisans left over the same period. This was the culmination of a decade, from 2006 to 2015, that saw 73,000 Illinoisans leave for Missouri.
This out-migration is particularly clear when examining the Metro East counties and their Missouri counterparts. Between July 2015 and July 2016, Madison and St. Clair counties lost more than 1,600 residents, while Missouri's St. Charles County saw a growth of 5,747 residents and Lincoln, Warren, Franklin and Jefferson counties welcomed another 1,623 residents.
Examining data from the Tax Foundation on the Metro East counties, Kohn pointed out that all of them are in the top half of highest property taxes in Illinois, with three in the top quarter.
Residents in Monroe, St. Clair, Madison, Clinton and Jersey counties pay more than $2,000 a year in property taxes, with Jersey County homeowners paying the least, at a median of $2,073, still ranking it 40th of Illinois’ 102 counties.
Madison County ranks 25th and Clinton County 26th, with median property tax figures of $2,507 and $2,505, respectively. The median amount for St. Clair County hit $2,617, barely keeping the county out of the state’s top 20 for property taxes.
Monroe County residents pay the most in the region -- more than residents in 89 percent of Illinois’ counties. With a median property tax figure of $3,455, it is the 12th highest in the state for property taxes. It is by far the most expensive in the Metro East, at 25 percent higher than St. Clair County.
Kohn pointed out that St. Clair County residents can expect to pay even more in property taxes this year, as the county board approved an increase in April. He cited a Belleville News-Democrat article explaining that the tax rate will go from 0.938 to 1.0865 per $100 of equalized assessed value (EAV). This translates to an increase of approximately $40 on a house valued at $100,000. The hike comes despite a rejection of higher taxes from the community on the April ballot, when a measure to impose a public safety sales tax was rejected.
Residents in the St. Clair city of Belleville will see even more increases on their tax bill, as the City Council raised property taxes by 5.7 percent, translating to a $45 increase on a house valued at $100,000.
Kohn arged that without significant reductions in the property taxes charged to residents in the Metro East counties, the out-migration to Missouri only stands to grow.
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