Smile Politely

The Champaign Township Referendum

Champaign township supervisor Linda Abernathy said she’s “looking for a miracle,” hoping that voters will vote yes November 4th on a referendum that will allow for a raise in the property tax limiting rate.

Bruce Byrd, a lifelong Champaign resident, says he supports the referendum because the additional funds will help pay for general assistance funds for those who are homeless and cannot qualify for other types of government aid. “The townships basically give them a stipend to try to survive,” Byrd said in a telephone interview Monday night. “The township’s primary responsibilities are to help indigent people.”

The property tax limiting rate would increase by .02% from the 2007 rate and “be equal to .0550% of the equalized assessed value” of taxable property. In English, this means that a homeowner whose house is valued at $100,000 would find his or her tax extended by an additional $6.67.

However, there is no mention of indigent people on the voter guide, and the ballot item does not explain how the township funds will be used. “If (voters) don’t know anything about the township, then they’re really lost,” Abernathy said.

Abernathy said her attorney, Trisha Crowley, who is also the attorney for the city of Champaign, wrote the item for the ballot. “We hammered and hammered and hammered and the attorney did some looking into it and researching it,” Abernathy said. “It’s all legislatively done.”

In an email Thursday morning, Crowley wrote, ” It is true that the statute sets out the exact language required for a referendum like this. You cannot add anything, although the language is certainly not very clear.”

Not very clear? Here it is in its entirety:

“Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for City of Champaign Township be increased by an additional amount equal to .02% above the limiting rate for levy year 2007 and be equal to .0550% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2008?

(1) The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is $482,723 and the approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is approved is $779,597.

(2) For the 2007 levy year, the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $6.67.

(3) If the proposition is approved, the aggregate extension for 2008 will be determined by the limiting rate set forth in the proposition, rather than the otherwise applicable limiting rate calculated under the provisions of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (commonly known as the Property Tax Cap Law).”

Abernathy said that voters have had a chance to find out about the referendum through previous press coverage. “I really do believe that those who care about the poor have heard the right thing,” Abernathy said.

However, not all voters have had a chance to research the referendum. John Patterson, a Champaign homeowner and voter, said he had not seen his voter guide arrive in the mail. He said he thinks property taxes in Champaign-Urbana are already “outrageous,” but that “if it is something that directly relates to me, then I’ll go ahead with it.”

However, when asked if he would vote to pay $5 to $10 to help poor people within the township, Patterson said, “That sounds like a great idea.” He said he has classmates from high school who have returned from Iraq and have had a hard time getting medication or other types of assistance from the government. “I’ve seen homeless people increase in the last year,” Patterson said. “They come in asking for food.”

Related Articles