Worth Township Challengers' Slate Promises Tax Rebate
If elected on April 9, the Worth Township Community First Party says they will give township homeowners a one-time property tax rebate
Like a chicken in every pot, the Worth Township Community First Party is promising a one-time property tax rebate to all Worth Township homeowners if elected on April 9.
The Community First Party is challenging current incumbent board members who are running together as the United Party of Worth Township.
After reviewing the most recent township revenues available in the most recent financial audit, the challengers determined that the current $2.4 million tax surplus should be returned to taxpayers still struggling in the sluggish economy, a news release said.
On average, the township has carried an approximate $2 million tax surplus.
Under the program, Worth Township homeowners would return 15 percent of property taxes earmarked for the township.
For fiscal year 2011-12 (Mar. 1, 2011 to Feb. 29, 2012) the property tax levy was $2.311 million, which included a $212,539 variance over the original estimated tax levy.
Click on the pdf to view the Worth Township FY 2011-12 financial audit.
“I understand you have to keep a reserve fund,” Community First Party leader and township supervisor candidate Kevin Hughes said. “If it’s going to continue to be $2 million every year than at some point you have to give some of that back.”
Hughes said about $460,000 would be taken from the $2.4 million tax surplus for the one-time rebate program. On average, township homeowners would receive a check between $35 and $40.
“We don’t carry a large surplus,” Town Supervisor Murphy said of the tax surplus. “Over the last five years our budget has down 14 percent.”
Murphy called the challengers’ plan “ridiculous and irresponsible.”
“It’s like paying everyone $50 for their vote,” Murphy said.
Murphy explained that since he took over as town supervisor in 1997, the township leadership has reduced a $2 million debt without raising the tax levy.
The cash reserve is needed, Murphy said, for an emergency.
“In 2011 we got flooded on the first floor [of the township office]. Insurance covered a lot of it but we had to pay cash,” the town supervisor said. “[The cash surplus] is for any kind of catastrophe. It’s savings in the bank in case your hot water heater breaks down.”
Hughes holds strong to his party’s plan for a one-time property tax rebate and hopes that the Community First Party, if elected, would set an example for other taxing bodies in Cook County.
“I would love to do more than 15 percent but that’s the least we can do. I talked to a senior citizen who said the rebate would help her buy a week’s groceries.
“A little check from the township, village and county would add up to more for taxpayers,” Hughes added.
In addition to the one-time tax rebate, Hughes says that he and his slate mates want to use the surplus to start a veterans’ assistance program and a pick-up prescription plan.
The cost to fund both programs is $250,000, leaving $1.69 million for a rainy day, Hughes said.
Hughes also believes that his slate can bring more savings to taxpayers by leveraging resources with other Worth Township municipalities to buy road salt and asphalt in volume.
During 2012's unseasonably warm winter, the township spent $25,000 for roads in the township's unincorporated areas, including Garden Homes, Palos Gardens, Navajo Gardens, Bluecrest, Austin View, Kedzie Commons, and unincorporated Palos Heights.
Road salt was originally budgeted at $50,000, according to the FY 2011-12 financial audit. The township is vague on how much was budgeted for asphalt.
The Community First Party thinks it can do better.
"We've been talking to candidates in smaller municipalities," Hughes said. "It would make sense to share recources and buy in volume to get volume discounts. It's not like somebody's salt is better than somebody else's."