Where are my property taxes going? Pensions costs 584% up since 2000
April 25, 2023 7
Shocking new analysis reveals how your ever-increasing Illinois and Cook County property taxes literally buy you nothing.
The numbers, put forth by the inimitable Illinois Policy Institute, show pension costs skyrocketed 584% since 2000 while the total bill for education grew by only 25 percent in the same period and spending on other government-provided necessitities like roads and bridges actually shrank, in part to allow for ballooning pensions.
State employee insurance, the other big growth category, of course directly relates to pension costs, saw a 107% spike since 2000.
Consequently, you see continual increases to the gas tax, a high sales tax, and proposals raise the state income tax. State officials can't sell residents on these policies in the traditional fashion: By communicating to those who pay what they shall receive for the cost.
That's because those who pay aren't getting anything for it. You just pay more to maintain the status quo.
And it appears residents are getting wise to this fact. The same Illinois Policy Institute analysis included a poll in which residents were asked: "The amount I pay in property taxes and other state and local taxes is ..."
An overwhelming 58% majority of respondants replied "Not worth the cost because they don't provide the same value in public services and benefits in return." 21% replied "Worth the cost because they provide necessary funding for vital public services" and another 12% were unsure. 800 Illinois voters were surveyed for the poll.
In the nation, Illinois ranks second only to New Jersey in total pension burden. Pension costs directly translate to property tax burden, as these two states also rank second and first in the nation in average property tax burden, respectively.
The assessment and property tax system is what it is and you cannot prevent the cost creep entirely. But, any property owner who feels the same — namely, that your property taxes are "Not worth the cost because they don't provide the same value in public services and benefits in return," — should consider appealing their property's assessment.
Appeals at least ensure that Cook Count owners don't pay the highest property tax on the block and make the system more fair by knocking back outlier assessments and bending the County's often assessments back towards uniformity.
A well-researched appeal, especially on a reassessment year, will save the owner thousands and not uncommonly over ten thousand over the course of a 3-year assessment period.