Protest brewing against proposed Kane tax hike

Public opposition appears to be building against what some say is the largest property tax increase ever proposed in the borough of Kane.One plan discussed Thursday by the Kane Borough Council calls for boosting the tax rate by 4 mills—a 34-percent increase over the current level of 7.875 mills.One “compromise” plan calls for a 3-mill tax increase and the elimination of a Kane police officer.Each mill generates about $36,000 in tax revenue.A tentative 2012 budget adopted last month by council shows an increase of 1.5 mills. In three budget workshops held since that action, council discussed the need for additional revenue and a higher tax rate.It will all shake out Monday when council meets at 4 p.m. at the borough building to adopt a final budget. The meeting is open to the public and several residents are expected to attend to complain about a proposed property tax increase.Only four residents showed up Thursday for the third budget workshop held by council. These residents—concerned about the effects of a tax increase—include Ed Peterson of Welsh Street, Judy Renzi of 100 S. Fraley St., and Tom and Barb Baker of Dawson Street.Renzi, a widow, told council that she has been trying to sell her house. She said her property is assessed for $82,000, but “I can’t get $60,000” from a potential buyer.Renzi pointed out that delinquent property taxes for this year in Kane total $120,000. Without this anticipated tax revenue, the borough has had to dip into a reserve fund to pay bills.She said families have moved out of Kane and have left unpaid taxes behind.Some of the unpaid taxes eventually will be paid—with interest and penalty. However, some of the delinquent property-owners could see their homes go up for sale by the county Tax Claim Bureau.Renzi believes the borough will see more unpaid property taxes next year if council acts Monday to raise the tax rate.“You’re not going to get it,” Renzi told council in reference to revenue from higher property taxes. “Go with something reasonable.”Renzi said council is “penalizing those who do pay taxes” by increasing the tax rate. She said she has had to borrow money to pay property taxes.“I can’t do that every year,” she said.Tom Baker cited a poor economy as a reason to hold the line on property taxes.“Most states have double-digit unemployment,” he said.Peterson, who is chairman of the borough’s Zoning Hearing Appeals Board and is a longtime member of the Kane Volunteer Fire Department, said a proposed 4-mill property tax hike is “the biggest tax increase I’ve heard of” in Kane.He said the proposed tax rate is “pretty hefty” for property-owners to face.Part of the tax increase would go into a dedicated account for streets repairs.Peterson, however, believes some of the borough streets already are “too far gone” for basic repairs. He said the borough years ago should have embarked on a preventative maintenance program for its 20 miles of streets.“These streets didn’t deteriorate overnight,” he said.Councilman Dennis Drost said “mud is coming up through blacktop” on some deteriorating streets in Kane.Peterson said even a 5-mill tax increase “wouldn’t be scratching the surface” for street repairs in Kane.Other topics covered at the latest budget workshop include:*Council appears to be considering a plan to ask Wetmore Township to increase its share for fire protection by the Kane Volunteer Fire Department.See full article by purchasing the Dec. 10 edition of The Kane Republican.