Lake County Property Taxes

Property Taxes stand as the most common complaint about life in Lake County. Lake County has the highest property tax rate in the State of Illinois, while Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation, it doesn’t take long to do the math and follow the money.

A home I just sold in Round Lake Beach is valued at approximately $215,000. That home should be taxed at 14.76% of Assessed Value according to the state’s formula and the local tax rate. Assessed Value is arrived by dividing the Fair Market Value by 3. Hence: $215,000 (/) 3 (x) .1476 = $10,578 in annual property taxes on a home worth $215,000. That is an annual tax of 5% of the home’s value!  That is double the Illinois average of only 2.67%, which is already double the National median property tax rate!

In 1990, Illinois property tax increases were relatively on par with wage growth at 1%. After the Dot Com crash of 2000-2001, wages in Illinois have stagnated while property taxes have continued to increase. Property taxes in Illinois are rising 160% faster than wages, and that number is worst in Lake County.

In 2016 alone, over 5,000 residents fled Lake County. The only reason Illinois saw an increase in population is because our births outnumbered our deaths.

The five main factors affecting our incredibly high property taxes are:

  1. Government worker pensions
  2. Government worker health care
  3. Prevailing wage requirements
  4. Worker’s compensation costs
  5. State is shifting the burden of school funding almost entirely to the Property Tax payer

The bleeding has to stop at the state, so we can shift some of the school funding off of the Property Tax payers so we can see some relief. However, there is more to the equation:  If we can incentivize businesses to build and draw talent from our local schools and colleges we can creating more economic opportunity for our residents which will in turn help our municipalities and county alike. We also need to stop spending on projects that do not add to the economic stability or growth of our area.  Building a $55 Million new CLC building, or a $110 Million new courthouse, or a $16 Million new Library are wonderful things for communities who aren’t losing residents because of crippling taxes.

The County has done a good job at lowering budgets over the past six years, however we are still spending money on Capital Projects that need to be evaluated based on the community’s desire and ability to pay for them.

The County also needs to lead the way with consolidation and sharing of services efforts throughout the county, which I am happy to see Chairman Aaron Lawlor has already begun investigating.

It is not too late for Lake County to bounce back as we have a good start that needs to be strengthened. With 1 of only 3 of the state’s AAA Bond ratings, Lake County has the resources, talent and forward thinking skills to start digging out of this mess.