To the Editor:
Since being formed by four Geneva residents in August 2008, many people have called For Accountable Controlled Tax Spending (FACTS) a variety of things. What is this group really about? Very simply, it is a group of like-minded local taxpayers who want to educate the community on how local taxing bodies develop their operating budgets.
Listed below is a portion of our first e-mail to every member of every local taxing body:
I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of a new community group being formed by Fox Valley residents. The mission of the group is to work with local taxing bodies to learn and understand how they operate, especially in terms of budget development and revenue generation.
Several outside factors have led to the creation of FACTS, including the slowdown in the real estate market, the continued increase in property assessments and the continued increase in property taxes. The most recent assessment in Geneva Township reflects the average value for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. If the current downturn in the housing market continues, the assessment received in 2009 will reflect the loss in property value in the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. Clearly, each taxing body’s revenue is directly related to home assessments. A decrease in assessment, which appears very likely, will mean a decrease in revenue for each taxing body.
It is the group’s goal to be proactive to this potential “perfect storm” and avoid the possibility of homeowners paying more taxes on property that has less value than today. The next 18 months provides an opportunity to discuss and develop a plan that will not negatively affect the entire community. We are in the process of reviewing the budgets focusing on the various expenses and revenue streams. Our next step will be to open a dialogue with each taxing body and inform the public of what we have learned and what can be done to avoid the “perfect storm” causing financial hardship throughout the entire community.
That e-mail was sent Aug. 22, 2008. Clearly, we knew the potential problem that all of us now live with. We focused on the Geneva School District because it is the largest portion of everyone’s taxes and we didn’t have many “boots on the street.”
Have we been aggressive in speaking out? Yes, because we had to say things that board members didn’t want to hear. Have we been successful? You need to answer that question.
Do you understand more about your taxes than you did in 2009? We now have 123 taxpayers on our e-mail list. Please join by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is free, because we use zero-based budgeting!
I will end with a quote from a Geneva School Board member from the Oct. 24, 2011 meeting about the $325 million debt problem. “It is not a desirable position. We’re just trying to do the best for the long term.” FACTS realized the problem three years ago; Why didn’t they?
The Dialogue Company, MidWest Region Manager