↓ Archives ↓

Archive → May 12th, 2015

Balich hopes Homer Twp. vote deters tax hikes

Wight Engineering event 402
Balich hopes Homer Twp. vote deters tax hikes
By Susan DeMar Lafferty
Daily Southtown
contact the reporter

Will Co. Board member seeks no-tax-hike referendum on March 2016 Homer Township ballot
Will County Board member Steve Balich wants taxpayers to send a message to all taxing districts in Homer Township — people are against any property tax increase, no matter how small.

He’s collecting the required 2,000 signatures to place a nonbinding referendum on the March 2016 ballot that will ask voters, “Shall each taxing body located wholly or partially within Homer Township be required to seek voter approval by referendum prior to increasing its annual total property tax levy?”

“We want to tell taxing bodies that we are fed up. They have no respect for taxpayers,” Balich said, adding that the referendum outcome will “end the debate once and for all about property tax increases.”

He said local government spending plays the biggest role in whether property tax bills rise or fall because the governments boost their tax levy, the amount of revenue the district seeks to collect via the property tax.

“Candidates run for office and say they are against property tax increases,” Balich, R-Homer Glen, said. “They get elected and say the tax is only going up a little so the people won’t mind. They forget that a little is a lot when every taxing body raises taxes a little, and over time these yearly increases add up to quite a big amount.

“If people speak up loud and clear that they are fed up (by voting for this referendum plan) maybe elected officials will change their tune,” he said.

If a taxing district wants more money, it should only be able to raise taxes for a specific purpose by referendum and then end that tax increase when the money is not longer needed, according to Balich.

Taxing districts — such as counties, towns, townships and school, park, library and fire protection districts — are limited by the property tax cap, which allows an annual tax rate increase of no more than 5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. But Balich called the tax cap a “scam” because most taxing districts raise their rates up to the legal limit.

Taxpayers also have the right to address tax issues during tax levy hearings that local governments are required to conduct every year, but Balich said no one ever attends.

The referendum is way for people to “express their feelings” about property tax increases, he said, adding that if the Homer Township referendum measure succeeds, he hopes the anti-tax-hike movement will spread throughout the state.

“Once people see that it can pass, others will follow,” Balich said.

Will County’s preliminary home inspection code questioned

Will County’s preliminary home inspection code questioned
Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:33 p.m. CDT

By LAUREN LEONE–CROSS – lleonecross@shawmedia.com
JOLIET — Tom Joseph, a local watchdog for homeowners and real estate agents, is accusing Will County’s Land Use Department of conducting preliminary home inspections beyond the scope of individual permit applications — a practice he believes to be overreaching.

Will County’s preliminary home inspection code questioned
“If someone puts in (an application) for permit work, that’s the work that should be inspected,” said Joseph, who serves as the government affairs director for the Illinois Association of Realtors and the Three Rivers Realtors Association.

Joseph raised concerns earlier this spring to the Will County Board’s Land Use and Development Committee, saying the practice violates a homeowners’ fourth amendment rights.

“We don’t believe that’s the intent of the law,” he said.

But Will County Land Use Director Curt Paddock pushed back against the accusations Tuesday during a meeting of the Land Use and Development Committee. He pointed to the 2012 International Residential Code adopted by the County Board last year.

The code states that “before issuing a permit, the building official is authorized to examine or cause to be examined buildings, structures and sites for which an application has been filed.”

The department does not conduct inspections without the homeowners’ consent, he said.

If a code violation is “in plain sight” during a pre-inspection, the official has a right to cite it as a violation, he said. For example, if someone applies for a permit to put in a new water heater, he said, and the building official notices a live wire sparking while walking down the steps of the basement, that’s fair game.

“Their perspective is ‘You should have had blinders on,’” Paddock said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, committee member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, spoke out against the Land Use Department’s interpretation of the code.

“If someone comes and inspects my house, that’s one thing. But when I apply for a permit, the person should be allowed to only inspect what that was for and nothing else,” Balich said. “That’s way, way out of our boundaries.”

Paddock said during Tuesday’s meeting that there’s concern that the Land Use Department is conducting preliminary inspections “triggered by the current or proposed ‘for sale’ status of a property.”

“That’s simply not true,” he said, noting that the only condition triggering pre-inspections is a property owner’s permit application.

But Joseph alleges the department “on three occasions” attempted to or conducted pre-sale home inspections — a program not adopted by the county.

Alternatives were presented at the county’s Land Use and Development Committee Tuesday.