JJC board hikes taxes nearly 17% on taxpayers

The JJC board unanimously approved the tax levy hike on December 13, 2011.  Board members Jeff May, Bob Wunderlich, Susan Klen, Dan O’Connell, Mike O’Connell, Andy Mihelich, and board president Barbara Delaney all voted yes to the 16.94% tax levy increase.  The increase in the levy totaled $8,008,978.  Last year’s levy was $47,287,997 and this new levy for fiscal year 2012 is $55, 296,9751.

This early Christmas present will significantly affect each taxpayer’s property tax bill in the New Year.  Add this to the 2010 levy increase of approximately $2M, and $5.5M from 2009.  The total JJC levy increase since the 2008 levy-the start of the recession, is approximately 41%.   This is a large tax burden while private sector wages have remained stagnant and unemployment has increased dramatically.

Two incumbents were re-elected to the board last April; Jeff May who said his primary issue was “Keeping tax rates and tuition low,”, and Mike O’Connell who said his most important issue was “Keeping property taxes down”.  Mike O’Connell went on to say that “people are being taxed out of their homes” and that he voted against last years $2M levy(FY2011), however now newly re-elected, both voted for the nearly 17% increase.  That’s only going to hurt folks who were being “taxed out of their homes” only 9 months ago.

The board has managed to find the loop hole around the tax cap.  The special purpose portion of the levy is subject to a cap of 5% or the Consumer Price index, whichever is lower.  Currently the CPI is 2.7%. The levy for debt service and building commission leases is not subject to the cap.  They used that loophole to levy more property taxes and spend more money for 2012.

What are they spending the increase on?  One good bet is the new culinary building they intend to build in downtown Joliet on the location of the old White store.  In May and June of 2011 the board was set to approve what was slated to be a $43M project for this building.  Members of the public came to those meetings and addressed the board asking why no studies had been done to determine if jobs existed in the district to support such a huge expansion of that program.  No jobs study.  No economic study.  They asked why JJC didn’t track graduate success of that program to determine if those students were getting any jobs in the district or any jobs at all.  The board’s response dismissed the public comment and confirmed that there hadn’t been any significant research done to justify the massive expansion.  The next thing the board did was start discussing how they could add an additional $8M to finish out the upper two floors of the building, which were supposed to be left unfinished in the plan.  The board then changed the $43M plan to $50.5M plan and voted to approve it.  Even the $50.5M plan does not cover all the operating and maintenance costs and other costs for additional staffing for the building.  The taxpayers will be on the hook for that later.

Taxpayers should note that when the culinary building was approved, JJC still didn’t have the majority state portion of the money in hand. Now more than 6 months later, they still don’t have that money and some board members are pushing for a January vote to physically start the project.  Approving such a multi-million dollar project let alone physically starting it without having the majority of the money for it is playing risky with taxpayer money at best.

  1. JJC public tax levy notice printed Dec 1, 2011
  2. JJC BOARD AGENDA ITEM 4.8,November 8, 2011
  3. “JJC hikes tax levy”, Joliet Herald News, December 15, 2010
  4. SouthtownStar candidate interviews, March 29, 2011
  5. Will County Clerk comment, December 22, 2011

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *