The concept of less government and lower taxes is something most people can support. Members of the Naperville City Council, particularly Councilman Kevin Coyne, are leading the charge to consolidate the Naperville Township Road District into the City of Naperville. The proposed savings will result in “many hundreds of thousands of dollars of unnecessary expense…removed from the Naperville Township tax levy” according to Councilman Coyne in a letter to the editor of the Naperville Sun and Daily Herald.
A very worthwhile objective, since Illinois has the most units of government of any state in the country. What is interesting about this is the politician leading the way is proposing cuts in a governmental unit to which he was not elected. It’s probably true that the Township Road District would not have cut its own budget without some prompting. There is however, the Naperville Township Board of Trustees. They were elected to oversee the operation of the Township, including the Township’s budget. Kevin Coyne is a Councilman in the City of Naperville. Not Naperville Township.
Yet here comes Mr. Coyne, positioning himself as the champion of reducing real estate taxes. Councilman Coyne has proposed two non-binding referendums for the November ballot that will be hard to vote against: consolidating government and reducing some related real estate taxes. When the referendums are overwhelmingly approved, which they will be, Councilman Coyne will have positioned himself as a tax-cutting crusader for his re-election campaign in April of 2017.
Exactly which taxes is Councilman Coyne proposing to reduce by “many hundreds of thousands of dollars”? The City of Naperville? Well, no. Councilman Coyne is leading the charge to reduce taxes somewhere else: Naperville Township. Will it affect some of the residents of Naperville? Absolutely. Should elected officials be constantly looking for efficiencies in government? No question they should. Where should they start? How about where they were elected?
Quite the champion of tax reduction: reduce taxes by cutting someone else’s budget, a budget you have nothing to do with.
So what is Councilman Coyne’s record on taxes? The 2016 City of Naperville budget included the following tax increases:
1.) Garbage collection fees: an increase of $5.0 million annually, from $2.00 per month per household to $12.35 per month per household. (Recently inceased to $12.65 per month.)
2.) The first ever City of Naperville Home Rule Sales Tax, a tax increase estimated at $8.5 million a year. City Council members were so proud to mention that $2.0 million of this tax increase would be abated as a reduction of the City of Naperville tax levy. Not mentioned during the self-congratulatory back slapping was the increase in the City of Naperville pension fund, which wiped out over half of the so-called savings.
So, net of the real estate abatement, that's $11.5 million in taxes per year. Plus the increase in the Pension Fund levy on real estate taxes.
How did the champion of tax reduction do when he actually had to vote on taxes? Well, he voted for them of course. “AYE”
At the Naperville City Council meeting of May 3, 2016, the savings to be realized from the consolidation of the Township Road District into the City of Naperville were estimated at $700,000.
At the same meeting, it was noted that there are approximately 30,900 households in Naperville Township, 30,000 of which are in Naperville, and 900 of which are unincorporated.
Not to minimize the savings. With the amount of taxes we pay, savings are welcome anywhere. But using the Council's own numbers, $700,000 spread over 30,900 households would result in savings of $22.65 per year. That will cover almost two months of the garbage fee increase he voted for, but really? All this for $22.65 a year? And not even for all the residents of Naperville he was elected to represent?
So, after raising City of Naperville taxes, Councilman Coyne has devoted significant time positioning himself on reducing Township taxes in writing referendums, writing Letters to the Editor, speaking at a forum on the topic (September 19th at City Hall), etc for savings of some of the residents of Naperville of $22.65 per year.
Would those efforts be better served on the business of governing the City of Naperville? He was after all elected to serve as a City Councilman, not a Township Trustee.
For instance, at the May 3rd, 2016 City Council meeting, the issue of a potential City of Naperville pension shortfall of $5 million or more was revealed. What are he and the other members of Council doing to address that looming tax increase, which is potentially 7 or more times as large as the reduction from consolidating Township functions?
The Township topic appears to be the political equivalent of low hanging fruit, as Councilman Coyne is not the only candidate for City Council running on the concept of cutting other government’s budgets. A group called the Naperville/Aurora Residents For Lower Taxes has been formed to support this cause. A Political Action Committee (“PAC”) called the Naperville Residents for Lower Taxes was formed in August, with the stated purpose of “Support of consolidation of government services.” Who formed that PAC? None other than Mr. Michael Issac, candidate for Naperville City Council. The same Michael Issac who Mayor Chirico appointed to the Financial Advisory Board. (A Financial Advisory Board which the Mayor enlarged by two members so he could add two additional cronies, including Mr. Issac.) The opportunity to position oneself as a tax hero is too rich to pass up even for candidates not even on City Council.So easy in fact, that Mr. Issac's organization is having a fundraiser, minimum of $50 to attend an event to push for savings of $22.65 a year for some of Naperville's residents. So this is really just a citizen's committee pushing for saving residents tax money, right? And who will be attending? Well the Mayor, as well as Councilman Coyne, Councilwoman Brodhead, Councilman Krummen, Councilwoman Gustin and other poltical types. No sir, no politics involved in this. Even the mathematically challenged among us can do the arithmetic on this one: contribute at least $50 to a group pushing to save some of us $22.65 a year.
Step back and consider how absurd this charade has gotten: Attend an event and contribute at least $50 to a group affiliated with Mike Issac, candidate for Council, for an organization purportedly established to promote consolidation in government he has nothing to do with (he doesn't even live in Naperville Township) or is not a candidate for, in order to save some residents $22.65 a year.
Here’s a suggestion: Follow the example of the DuPage County Board. They’re actually reducing the budget of the governmental body to which they were elected. According to the Naperville Sun, the proposed DuPage County budget for the year beginning December 1, 2016 has a reduction of $10.6 million in spending, from $444.4 million to $433.8 million, with decreased spending, fewer employees and no change in property taxes. Since Dan Cronin took office in 2010, approximately $44 million has been cut from the budget, and the property tax levy has remained flat for six years.
These are people focusing on the government to which the voters elected them, not some other governmental body.
Councilman Coyne, Mr. Issac: Duly noted is your overt political ploy by running for City Council as a tax cutting crusader by reducing taxes in the Township.
You're asking the residents of the City of Naperville to vote for you for City Council.
What are your plans for reducing taxes in the City of Naperville?