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Northern Illinois Mayors Call Possible Cut 'Devastating'

Susan Stephens
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey at a news conference with Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg and Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain

Local services such as police and fire are at risk if one of Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposals goes through. That’s the message from a group of northern Illinois mayors.

The governor wants to cut the Local Government Distributive Fund in half. That’s the portion of income taxes the state sends back to communities. Rockford would lose more than seven million dollars. Mayor Larry Morrissey says everyone is willing to share in the budget sacrifice…up to a point.

If the state says “We’re not raising taxes. We’re just going to balance the budget on the backs of local government,” that doesn’t save anybody money. What it really does is just shift the burden from the state so they can say at least on their balance sheet that they didn’t raise taxes. But all they’ve done is force a tax increase locally.

Morrissey says if the cut is approved by lawmakers, he may have to lay off 40 police officers. The mayors of Freeport, Loves Park, Machesney Park, and Belvidere joined Morrissey Thursday in a plea to find other solutions to the state’s budget problems.

Homeowners in Machesney Park and Loves Park do not pay a property tax for village services. Machesney Park Village President Jerry Bolin says he would never vote to implement a local property tax, but if the state halves the Local Government Distributive Fund, there may be no other way to pay for important municipal services. That decision would have to be made by voters.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.