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Property Taxes, Levies, Local Governing Bodies and You

Your Local Official May Raise Property Taxes by Up To 5% – Without a Referenda

Every year, Illinois law requires your local governing bodies – including the school district, the village, the park district, the library, etc. – to “levy” property taxes. Additionally the law allows for them to extend the tax levy (i.e. increase your property taxes) equal to the consumer price index (CPI) plus new property growth, up to 5% total, without having to go to the community and ask via a referendum. And they almost always do.

These bodies can raise your property taxes even if property values have declined, without asking you.  The increased tax that they capture (i.e., the school’s percentage that they receive from local property taxes) never goes away or decreases.  This is why you see your property tax bill grow year over year, even when the value of your property is stagnant, or declines.

Your local government’s revenue stream and spending inexorably increases, even if yours is going in the other direction. Of course this leaves these bodies with no incentive to spend wisely.

Below is the percentage of your annual property tax that each of Wilmette’s local governing bodies “captures”:

Taxing Body                             Tax Rate      Percentage of Property Tax

Wilmette School Dist 39             3.502              37.6%

New Trier SD 203                         2.38                25.6%

Village of Wilmette                      1.078               11.6%

Cook County                                  0.552              5.9%

Wilmette Park District                .518                  5.6%

Metropolitan Water                     0.426               4.6%

Wilmette Library                           0.395               4.2%

Other                                               0.452               4.9%

Total                                            9.303              100%


How are My Property Taxes Determined, and What Can I Do About It?

Your property tax payment is typically determined by two factors:

  • The assessed value of your property, determined by the Cook county assessor’s appraisal;
  • And the county’s needs (or wants).

The first is contended on an individual bases through the appeal process.

But the second, the county’s needs and wants, is where we can start acting as a community to rein in spending and taxing before it makes it into our tax bills.

What can I Do?

Very often people have no idea that they can control a large percentage of their tax increases at the source. But if we don’t start saying “no more,” our local bodies have no incentive to cut back. It’s just too easy to keep spending  other people’s money.


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