The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 16, 2012

Tough cuts loom ahead


DANVILLE — Local government officials find themselves faced with declining property value — which translates into less tax revenue — and increasing costs. It’s not a comfortable place.

The Danville City Council, Vermilion County Board and District 118 school board all recently passed tentative tax rates based on projected property values.

To their credit, all three governmental bodies kept tax rates the same or very close to those used this year. If property values do decline as projected, many homeowners could see lower property tax bills in 2013.

As good as the situation looks, there are some areas of concern.

City and county officials have yet to make real deep cuts in services. They have allowed some positions to go vacant through attrition and trimmed where they can. But there’s been no real full-scale evaluation of what constitutes essential services and what programs should continue.

School board members just voted on a lower tax rate that the district’s financial officials suggested Wednesday, even though it will mean they must make deeper cuts. We hope the position comes from a consideration for the taxpayer and is not part of a negotiation strategy with the teachers’ union. It will be difficult to offer any kind of a raise to school personnel if the tax rate is bringing in less money.

More of these decisions loom on the horizon for all local governmental bodies. With Illinois’ state finances in shambles, there’s no expectation of relief from Springfield.

Taxpayers must understand they cannot pay lower rates and still see the same level of services.