Lawmaker Wants Townships With Big Bank Accounts to Return Money to Taxpayers

Lawmaker Wants Townships With Big Bank Accounts to Return Money to Taxpayers

SHELBYVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ill. (IRN) — A township in central Illinois that had overtaxed residents for years is returning more than $735,000 to local property taxpayers, a rare rebate that one lawmaker said he wants to see happen in more of the state’s 1,400 townships.

Shelbyville Township recently returned $735,000 back property taxpayers because its reserve funds exceeded two and a half years of annual operating expenses, said state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, who helped pass a law that mandated such rebates. Shelbyville Township’s general assistance fund, used to help low-income residents, typically spent about $16,000 a year, according to media reports. The general assistance fund had a balance of more than $200,000 – enough for 12.5 years.

Halbrook said the law he passed a year and a half ago was based on a 1969 Illinois Supreme Court Case from Adams County.

“A business owner sued the county because they had funds on interest and ‘they’re overtaxing me’ and the courts ruled in that favor,” Halbrook said.

Halbrooks’ measure requires townships to limit reserves to two and a half years worth of annual operating expenses.

“That’s two and a half years worth of cash,” Halbrook said. “That’s a big number, so there’ll be all kinds of stuff going on. The whole idea was to protect taxpayers. We have to maintain taxpayers in the back of our minds all the time.”

Halbrook wants Shelbyville Township to serve as a model for others.

“Hopefully the townships across the state of Illinois would do the right thing and take a look,” Halbrook said. “I think what’s going to happen in our township is, a year ago before they voted to rebate the funds back they reduced our levy in the town portion 33 percent. This year they held it even and so I think as this thing balances out we’ll see a reduction of the overall tax burden to property owners.”

Halbrook said last month’s rebates to more than 2,000 property owners ranged from a few thousand dollars to $20 to $30, based on the equalized assessed value of the property.