Moving out of Illinois
Daily Chronicle - Yesterday
DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said some people may have lost faith in the state of Illinois, but not him.
According to recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois lost about 100,000 residents overall between July 2010 and July 2018. As residents leave, so do the property, income and sales taxes they generate, putting a greater burden on the residents who remain. Reversing the growing trend of Illinois resident outmigration may be the key to preserving the stateâs future.
Although some areas have gained population, the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area â composed of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties â has experienced overall population decline since July 2014, according to census estimates. Statewide population totals also have been on the decline since July 2013, according to census data, although Illinois remains the most populous state in the Midwest with about 12.7 million people.
âThe people that have talked to me about wanting to move, some of them have just lost hope in the ability of the state government to properly function,â Pietrowski said Friday. âSome of that isnât helped by two years of not being able to pass a budget.â
One factor stimulating this exodus is the stateâs high property tax burden on residents.
Diane Seymour of McHenry said that two years ago, she was living in a home that required her to pay about $15,000 in annual property tax.
She and her husband, Gary, then moved to their current home, where they pay about $7,000 in property taxes, so they could stay local and care for her elderly mother.
But after her motherâs death, Seymour said she and her husband will be moving to Florida and will be closing on a house similar in size to her McHenry home in June.
She said her new property tax payment will be about $2,400.
Shawn Strach of Dream Real Estate, who is handling the sale of the Seymoursâ home, said taxes always are the No. 1 issue for people fleeing the state, especially for those entering retirement.
âWhen you look at that number of $15,000 to $2,400, youâre talking about a monumental amount of money to be freed up for that family,â Strach said.
Another homeowner Strach worked with, who lived in Marengo but worked in Chicago, moved to Indiana and now is paying $1,500 in property taxes as opposed to $6,500 â all while still making the same commute to work.
Of the 53 families his realty company worked with last year, Strach said nine moved out of state.
Pietrowski said there needs to be a greater emphasis on income tax rather than property taxes.
âOne of the major reasons why people are not choosing to come to Illinois is they see a house but they have to pay more property taxes,â Pietrowski said. âIf we could get that lowered, our state is going to look more attractive, because we do have a lot of things going for us: access to jobs, plenty of access to neighboring cities. Illinois is still one of the No. 1 manufacturing states in the nation.â
DeKalb County is a tax cap county, which Pietrowski said can be a hindrance on local governing bodies seeking to lower property taxes.
The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, commonly referred to as âtax capsâ does not limit individual property taxes or property bills, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Instead, a tax cap is meant to limit the amount municipalities can levy when property values and assessments grow faster than the rate of inflation.
âIt changes the local governmentâs ability to [lower property taxes] because it maximizes what you can increase,â Pietrowski said. âIf you do decrease, it actually ends up penalizing you, so you can never make that money back.â
Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said there is much more contributing to population decline than simply taxes or weather, such as poor public policy.
Although a number of proposals from Gov. J.B. Pritzker have been advertised to help spur economic growth â such as a graduated income tax and the legalization of recreational marijuana â Redfield said there is no magic bullet for reversing declining population trends.
âThe state has not done a really good job of providing support for things communities need to make themselves attractive, not only in competing with other communities but from a state perspective,â Redfield said.
Redfield said he would put property taxes and school funding at the top of the list of public policy issues the state has the capacity to grasp.
Illinois revamped its school funding formula in 2017, but K-12 schools in many districts still are not receiving enough money to hit student adequacy targets or the total resources needed to support the best practices for students to succeed.
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Edited by Craigcelia, 06 May 2019 - 03:18 PM.