REALTORS®, It’s Time to Get Out the Vote

Please note; the issues discussed in this article are only applicable to DuPage County.

Election day 2018 is right around the corner; Tuesday, November 6th to be exact. And, while there is a lot at stake in these mid-term elections, our DuPage County voters have some important referendum questions to consider. We spoke with MORe member, Naperville Councilwoman, and current candidate for DuPage County Board Patty Gustin to learn more about the referendums and what they mean to the real estate community and the consumers we serve.

MORe: Patty, thanks for taking time to speak with us about the upcoming election and the referendum issues being posed to DuPage County residents.

Patty: My pleasure. As a REALTOR®, resident, and elected official actively seeking higher office, these issues are important to me and I appreciate the opportunity to reach MORe members and their clients with this important information.

MORe: Can you tell us what the referendum questions are and why they are important to REALTORS® and DuPage County residents?

Patty: There are three referendum questions on the ballot:

  • Shall DuPage County OPPOSE the General Assembly instituting a property tax increase equivalent to 1% of your home’s value to help retire state debt?
  • Shall DuPage County OPPOSE the creation of a statewide Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) which would tax DuPage County residents based upon the number of miles driven annually?
  • Shall DuPage County continue to dissolve and consolidate units of local government to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and increase accountability?

Each of these has statewide implications and are being put to a vote to the residents of DuPage County. They are important to us as REALTORS® for several reasons.

Increasing property tax statewide is not a new idea. A proposed property tax increase would hurt homeowners and could limit the potential for future buyers. The average Illinois homeowner’s property tax bill would increase 43% over the next 30 years, barely affecting the State debt, and that would be in addition to any other approved taxes in the homeowner’s tax districts.

The VMT is an interesting proposal. It’s stated intent is to raise funds to finance transportation infrastructure projects. The problem with the proposed plan is threefold: the state of Illinois already has taxes and budget to support infrastructure projects; it’s unclear how it would work, and it would disproportionately impact REALTORS®, since we essentially live in our cars.

Lawmakers proposing the VMT cite a similar program in place in Oregon, OreGo, as a potential model, but that program is still in a pilot phase so the benefits and potential impact are unclear.

Lastly, there’s a proposal for the continued efforts to dissolve and consolidate local government to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and increase accountability. Right now, Illinois has more units of government than any other state in the country, with more than 7,000 units. California is next in line with 2,000. Plus, our residents pay among the highest property taxes in the country to support these units of government. 

DuPage County has taken a leadership role in this area, establishing the Accountability, Consolidation, and Transparency (ACT) initiative in 2011. ACT uses a common-sense approach and a public hearing process to evaluate and determine instance of governmental redundancy and inefficiencies. Through ACT, by the end of 2019 more than seven agencies will have been closed, saving area taxpayers more than $100M. But, there’s more to be done, which is why supporting this plan is important.

MORe: Thanks, Patty for the very thorough overview and perspective. What do you want REALTORS® to do with this information?

Patty: First, everyone needs to get out and vote. Next, I’m asking REALTORS® to share this information with their friends, families, clients, and prospects. If passed, the impact of these taxes on homeownership and everyday driving would be extremely burdensome. Likewise, by not advancing the plan to continue to make progress on streamlining and right-sizing local government, we’re just throwing money away and burdening the tax payers.

Elections are always important, early voting began October 22nd continuing through November 6th, we have a chance to make our voices heard on some really important issues for our businesses, our clients and the residents of DuPage County.

MORe: Thanks very much, Patty.

Below is more information for DuPage residents on when and where to vote. We’ve also included a link to hear more from Patty on these three important referendums.

For information on voting in Illinois, please visit the Illinois State Board of Election.