The state of Illinois and some local governments are out of control when it comes to increasing taxes. This letter is quite different from my Main Street column where I try and be positive and upbeat in helping individuals. This is hard hitting, but I think I speak for hundreds, if not thousands of Kankakee County residents on this tax foolishness.
Issue 1: When Illinois raised its income tax in 2017, were you allowed to put off paying your new tax rate for 2-3 years? Of course not. And yet the state after promising to reopen Kankakee River State Park camping for years (since 2015), it has not done so. I have talked to both the park superintendent and the Kankakee tourism office and they of course are both supportive of reopening as soon as possible,
In the case of the Potawatomi campgrounds, 70 percent of the work was done by 2016/2017 and then stopped. So the facility sits idle generating zero dollars. Even if you are not a camper the failure to utilize this resource effects all of us. The total ineffectiveness and indifference on the part of DNR, the legislature, and the governor is shameful. My best economic estimates, considering fees not charged, supplies not purchased, and the economic multiplier tourism generates, means that the area and its businesses have suffered conservatively somewhere between $2 and $3 million of loss. We actually would love to take a few weekends from May-October to camp here and keep our money in the area.
Contrast that to the state of Iowa where we can take our camper and our money too. Right across the Mississippi River, north of Davenport is Scott County Park. Keep mine this is a county park. They have 1,270 acres, beautiful trails, enclosed shelters, playgrounds, a golf course, and a heated Olympic size swimming pool. Cost for swimming $5 per time. (Apparently they can build a pool that lasts more than 40 years as compared to what we built here). They have modern full-hookup camp sites for $25 per night and offer senior a discount.
Issue 2: Raising fees on our car license plates by $50 to $151. Tough on seniors like us who are on fixed income. I have a small utility trailer where the fee went up by over 500 percent from $18 to $118. Of course, I’m sure you have noticed all the extra employees that Jesse White has hired to give you fast, courteous service at the DMV. No? Me neither! So if we can’t get out of the state by December 2020 we are facing an extra $200 alone for Jesse’s office.
Issue 3: Gas tax raised by 19 cents per gallon. The fact is since we go out of state often, we buy as little gas as we can until we cross the Iowa, Indiana, or Missouri border. Again notice how much better all your roads are getting? Another shovel-ready scheme?
Issue 4: The ill-advised raising of local sales tax. Just because Kankakee and Bradley have overspent, I feel no obligation to pay more for their budget or pensions. Remember the classic Life cereal commercial “Let Mikey do it.” Frankly, we Mikeys have had enough. So what about Kankakee? We used to buy between $1,000 and $2,000 in Kankakee each year. Since then, in total, in the last two years, I have spent no more than a total of $200.
Do you realize that in March, a mere 1,723 Bradley voters gave the whole county a 1 percent sales tax increase (if you shop in Bradley where most of our retail stores are located?) Again, it’s nice if you can get someone else to pay your bills. I’ve already started to shift even more of my shopping to Bourbonnais. I was going to buy a new $600 to 700 camera at Best Buy. No more. I’ll go over there and use their store as a showroom and then go online and buy it from Best Buy online or from Amazon.
Issue 5: This county spends over $1 million alone on school superintendents. Many counties across the country with two or three times the size population have one superintendent. Countless other taxing bodies and unbelievable duplication is only getting worse.
The lesson: Until we start electing officials who understand basic remedial economics 001 and the dynamic scoring of economic transactions, this will continue. Kankakee County has been a nice place to live over the last 25 years (especially in Bourbonnais, which seems to be very well managed), but now sadly being on a fixed income, the politicians have left us no other choice than to consider leaving. At this time of tremendous stress of the pandemic, officials need to repeal taxes and cut their spending not raise taxes.