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Metro West urges lawmakers to address taxes, pensions

GENEVA – Pensions and taxes were at the forefront during Tuesday’s Metro West Council Legislative Breakfast, where state representatives from three counties, including Kane, weighed in on the upcoming legislative session.

Members of the Metro West Council, a conglomeration among leaders in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties, met at Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva and asked legislators about their support of issues surrounding taxes and pensions.

Dave Anderson, president of the Metro West Council and village president of Elburn, urged the eight state representatives who were present to oppose House Bill 89 – a bill proposed by Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, that would limit property tax increases as home values decline. He said capping taxes would strain local government, especially in a slow economy.

“Governments have responded by cutting costs and services to balance budgets,” he said. “... This bill would just make the problem worse. Metro West strongly opposes proposals to erode local revenues.”

Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, said he might support the bill because the average taxpayer can’t afford for property taxes to increase. Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, said he would not support the bill.

“We certainly want to support the funding that you get,” he said. “I will vote against 89 because I don’t think you need the pressure of what the state is doing.”

Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, said she opposed the legislation as it was presented a year ago, but she understood the concerns of the local taxpayer. She said property assessments are done every three years and the effects of those assessments can resonate for years if it’s done during a sharp economic downturn.

Much of Tuesday’s discussion centered around the importance of pension reform. DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen urged lawmakers to take action on pension reform because waiting will cause more anxiety for employers.

Hatcher said she was optimistic that pension reform would get done this year.

“No one wants to leave the legacy of a state that’s in a state of disaster,” she said. “[Pension reform] has to happen, and it has to happen this year.”

Pritchard said the state needs to amend the constitution that guarantees promised benefits to workers.

“That’s the way to really change the situation,” he said.

Montgomery Village President Marilyn Michelini asked lawmakers to consider passing marketplace fairness legislation by levying sales taxes on all Internet sales. She said that would allow local and state government to collect taxes.

“It’s long overdue,” she said. “It would allow the local Main Street retailers to compete more effectively with Internet retailers.”

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