St. Clair County, IL, property taxpayers save from double dipping retirees, lose to big levy

Taxpayers recently got a good news-bad news story out of the St. Clair County Board.

Good news: They voted to reduce the financial impact of those getting a county retirement check as well as a current county paycheck.

Bad news: They voted to ask property taxpayers for much more than they will need.

Elected officials starting Jan. 1 will get significantly less salary and no health insurance if they are drawing a pension from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. That is a good thing, removing the profit for those who would pursue public service in order to double dip from public pensions at the same time they are on a public payroll.

An IMRF pension would mean the countywide officers making $98,776 only would get $21,296. Board of Review members making $45,992 and county board members making $20,001 would both go to $7,579.

Taxpayer friendly, as opposed to the 2018 property tax levy. The County Board is asking for $68 million — 44 percent more than they actually spent last year.

Last year they sought $64.8 million but then abated $26.9 million this spring before taxpayers actually had to cough up the money over the summer. For the coming year they bumped up to $68 million and want taxpayers to trust them that they will be responsible and pass a massive abatement next spring, too.

They must have learned to govern at a frat house pledge initiation: “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

Oh, and the $37.8 million they took after the abatement this year was nearly $6 million more than they spent the year before. That jump put an extra $40 on the bill for a $100,000 home.

County leaders are giving themselves a big insurance policy against Springfield craziness. They are giving themselves the ability to take $68 million in the future if the state fails to come through with promised funding or if state lawmakers, or voters, suddenly pass property tax limits.

Grab what you can, then turn around and keep what you actually need. Not very transparent.

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