Topic: Property Tax Administration
Thursday, 26 July 2012 by David H. LeVan
You may be surprised by how much mosquitoes and property taxes have in common. No, mosquitoes do not pay property taxes although I’m beginning to think they should, based on the annoyance, fear, and money they cost people. Who knew mosquitoes could cost so much money! Really, how much does it cost to buy some bug repellant? Apparently a lot! Especially if the mosquitoes live in Cook County.
The taxpayers of Cook County are funding four separate Mosquito Abatement Districts. That’s a little overkill don’t you think (no pun intended)? In property tax revenue the four districts collect $10 million annually. The majority of that money is spent on wages and benefits for employees. I’m all for job creation but is that stretching the idea a little too far?
You may wonder how we got here. Well, after several malaria outbreaks in the 1920s, public referendum’s created the mosquito abatement districts and they have managed to stay afloat ever since. Although there is little proof that the techniques used by the districts are successful in reducing deaths caused by West Nile Virus, it is fear of that same virus that keeps these districts going.
In 2002, despite the four districts working hard to keep Illinois mosquito free, 67 people died from a spike in West Nile; however for the past 10 years those numbers have gone down to the single digits. So far this year there has only been one reported human case, one crow that we know of, and some mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile.
So when we’re talking about rising property taxes (of which $10 million may only be a drop in the bucket) every government expenditure counts. Who likes mosquitoes anyway? Yet we have to pay for another government program that may not even be effective in actually ridding us of the pests. That really bites!
Monday, 30 July 2012 by jon snider
David, back in the late '70's and early 80's in Colorado there were many "impact" studies and schemes to rid companies interested in oil shale of their money via property tax. The legislature seemed open to suggestion. An idea was floated for a tax based on affected numbers of migratory deer. Then one of the assessors talked about perhaps counting birds and even mospuitos. I thought he was joking about the mospuitoes but wasn't totally sure, given the prevailing mood.