Bill on Gifford property taxes clears another hurdle

Bill on Gifford property taxes clears another hurdle

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House shipped back to the Senate a bill that would help businesses rebuild after damaging tornadoes, such as the storm that ripped through Gifford last November.

SB 3259, sponsored by Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, passed the House 114-0 on Thursday afternoon. It returns to the Senate for a final vote on amendments made in the House. Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, said the legislation likely would be voted on in the Senate on Friday, which may be the final day of the spring legislation session.

The bill would limit property assessment increases on business owners who want to rebuild after a tornado. Hays specifically cited the Rademacher lumber and hardware store in Gifford, which was heavily damaged in the Nov. 17 tornado.

"A hardware store and lumberyard in the small community of Gifford was destroyed. Certainly the business owner was not contemplating rebuilding. The business has been there for many decades," he said. "Rebuilding at today's costs would cause the property tax to almost quadruple. This would allow him to have stability, and would allow the community to continue to have that business on the tax rolls."

Several lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, praised Hays on the House floor for his tenacity in getting the bill to passage stage.

"I want to commend my friend, Representative Hays, for doing this because he's going to make sure our small businesses are taken care of," said Rep. David Phelps, D-Harrisburg. He sponsored a similar bill two years ago addressed assessments of residential properties.

"I want to congratulate the sponsor who has advocated diligently on this issue and has withstood the perils of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, and who has in the spirit of cooperation and the greater good of the state agreed to some reasonable limitations on this that will help his afected area but not break the state's bank," said Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion.

One of the amendments on Hays' bill makes it applicable only after tornadoes. The original version applied to all "natural disasters."

"I think that for communities that go through future disasters, this will be a great help," said Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley.

Hays explained that property assessment increases would be limited to 4 percent per year for a period of 15 years.

"What we're trying to do is give that business predictability," he said. "They would be able to plan over a period of time and they wouldn't be hit with this enormous increase in one fell swoop."

The legislation is endorsed, Hays noted, by Champaign County Supervisor of Assessments Stan Jenkins, county board Chair Alan Kurtz, and local school and village officials.

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