No, not that Bush, Melinda Bush in this case or, as she likes to differentiate herself Melinda (Willen) Bush in her campaign literature. Why the sudden use of the parenthetical maiden name? Apparently to distance herself from Bush as far as possible but where she matches up with our current president is promising things she can’t deliver.
In her latest campaign mailer she is making a grand number of promises especially on property tax increases. Her plan calls for forcing the County Assessor to reassess all homes to account for the current values versus the “inflated” values of the past. First of all, they weren’t inflated, they were a product of the booming housing market. Second, the County Board can’t force the County Assessor to do any such thing. Assessments are done by township assessors and the County Board can’t force the township assessors to do that any more than the Federal Government can force Illinois to change its sales tax rate. It’s not within their power.
Next she wants to integrate “state, county and local traffic planning”. Sounds like a wonderful idea but that already is done on a routine basis. The problem is, the state doesn’t have any money and the growing list of projects the state intended to do but wasn’t allowed to do by our current governor and legislature (both controlled by Bush’s Democratic Party I might add) is about ten times as long as the list of projects actually being done. The state is broke, this is not news to anyone, Bush as your county board member isn’t going to fix the state.
The most egregious of these claims though is her statement that Larry Leafblad “sat on the sidelines and did nothing while our property taxes soared 30-50%” as well as “He could have voted to cap assessments at 7% but he refused and the people lost.” This is an utterly and completely bogus claim.
First, Lake County is subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law or “Tax Cap” which means, for most funds in most taxing bodies assessments can go up no higher than 5% or the cost of living (COLA), whichever is less. Up until last year that has been nowhere near 5% and way short of 7%. How Bush claims they went up 30-50% I have no clue, she doesn’t cite a source. What she is referring to in her mailer is the 7% cap that is part of the Alternative General Homestead Exemption, it only applies in Cook County. Why only Cook County? Only Cook County has adopted the alternative exemption, and the bill that Bush cites in her mailing, PA 93-0715, is being phased out by PA 95-0644! Under the only “7% cap” residents of Cook County had to apply to get the exemption and even then it was in lieu of the $5000 exemption the rest of us get, not in addition to it. While it could be some additional savings it’s being phased out in favor of a long term resident exemption that allows for a similar cap but only if you’ve been in your home more than ten years and only if you meet certain income requirements.
What does this all equate to? A whole lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about property taxes that the county board and any individual county board member has no control over. Unless Bush is somehow going to get Rod Blagojevich, Michael Madigan and Emil Jones to decide to lower our property taxes (good luck with those three!) it isn’t going to happen.
Finally, Bush claims to be “a leader with fiscal discipline”. Other than four years as a village trustee in Grayslake she hasn’t demonstrated much leadership outside of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. And oh, by the way, the union she’s a leader of just authorized a strike against Grayslake District 46. Call me silly but someone like Bush being an advocate for rising property taxes is a little like the fox being an advocate for the henhouse — it doesn’t pass the smell test. Good thing if she actually does win she’ll have almost nothing to do with property taxes in Lake County but the fact she claims that she can change it should be seen through by the voters.