Residents React to Possible Tax Increase

Property Taxes may go up again amidst $10 million budget deficit

Rockford - Rockford city officials face a similar budget question to what Winnebago County did last month.  How to close a big budget deficit in a county where property taxes are already sky high.  County leaders did it without raising taxes, but some city officials say that may not work for them.

Houses in the Rockford neighborhood haven't changed much in recent years, but their tax rates sure have, and it's having an impact.  Norbert Duttlenger has been living in Illinois for 21 years.  He purchased his home back in 1997 and has since his property taxes go up -- and up -- and up.

As a Rockford resident he now pays a total tax rate of 15.1% of the assessed value of his home.  10 years ago, that rate was 10.3%. Of that, Duttlenger pays the city of Rockford  3.3%, much higher than the 2.2% he paid 10 years ago.  Taxes he says this put a strain not just on his annual budget, but the value of his home as well.

Duttlenger said, "Essentially, in the 20 years that we've lived here, I've purchased this house again in property taxes versus what I paid originally for it.  And the value of my house essentially hasn't increased during that time period, despite the fact that the County Assessor's Office keeps wanting to raise it."

So when he hears that Rockford city officials are thinking of raising property taxes again, he says enough is enough.  However, with a $10 million budget deficit, Rockford mayor Tom McNamara believes a tax increase needs to be on the table.  He's against the kind of cuts Winnebago County recently made to avoid raising taxes, including cuts to public safety.

McNamara said, "We need to live in a safe city so we'll have new businesses who will want to come here and businesses here want to expand.  We need to attract talent, we need a safe community to attract talent.  So public safety is obviously critical."

But Duttlenger believes raising taxes will do nothing more than force taxpaying citizens like him to leave.

He added, "Once I'm no longer working, the property taxes here are to the point where I probably would not stay."

The mayor has put together a financial task force to go over the city's budget.  They'll deliver their report in November.





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