Sunday, November 20, 2005

Lawsuit: More tax errors in Kane County

Yet another reason why we should continue to vote "no" on referenda. Growth and appreciation allow for an increase in tax dollars and therefore referenda essentially are very rarely needed. The problems occur when boards out spend the rate of inflation and dole out lucrative contracts like candy. How many of your tax dollars are in the hands of irresponsible boards instead of in your child's college fund or your retirement account?

Lawsuit: More tax errors in Kane County
By Jeffrey Gaunt and Emily Krone
Daily Herald Staff Writers
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005

When Kane County officials decide to weigh in on whether they misapplied state tax law when calculating area tax bills, they’ll have plenty to discuss.

Not only did county officials wrongly figure tax rates for St. Charles School District 303 and Batavia School District 101, a tax-rate objection filed in 2004 claims the county also erred when calculating rates for the city of Batavia, and the city’s park and library districts.

“No final resolution has been reached,” said James Rooney, a Chicago attorney who filed the tax-rate objections.

Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti said he will take a stand on the objections at a Tuesday news conference but won’t comment until then.

All of the objections have to do with miscalculations of the tax rate. But the cases have to do with different applications of the law.

In the case of the library district, as with the two school districts, Rooney argues the county tax extender incorrectly calculated a voter-approved tax increase — giving the library district too much money.

In the Batavia school district, the misapplication cost taxpayers $6 million. In St. Charles, it could have cost taxpayers $17.5 million, but district officials opted not to take the extra cash.

In the library district, however, the miscalculation only amounts to roughly $65,000, based on figures used in the tax objection.

Similarly, the objection filed against the park district’s tax rate only amounts to tens of thousands — not millions — of dollars.

In that case, however, the argument is slightly different.

Under state law, the county tax extender should leave out any debt when first calculating annual changes in the tax rate. Doing so inflates the tax rate and costs taxpayers money.

That’s exactly what happened with the park district, the objection states.

And that’s also what happened with the city of Batavia, where after noticing the problem, the city’s finance director says she was able to convince county officials to correct it.

In that case, taxpayers paid more than $300,000 more than they should have, city officials said. This year, officials said, the $300,000 was paid in credits to tax bills.

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