News Flash

Pingree Grove News

Posted on: December 3, 2019

Pingree Grove SAFE Referendum

Pingree Grove SAFE

Pingree Grove SAFE

Village of Pingree Grove Approves Police Protection Referendum Request

Last evening (December 2, 2019), the Village of Pingree Grove Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance that initiates a public referendum for the March 17, 2020 Primary Election.  The referendum will request that Village residents approve a local property tax for the limited and specific purpose of providing funding for police protection throughout the Village.

Property taxes are unpopular for obvious reasons—and referenda asking to increase property taxes are similarly unpopular.  Our Board understands that.  Every member of our Board is a Village resident who pays property taxes just like you.  But our Board has spent months poring over the Village’s finances and looking at our short-term and long-term obligations, and unanimously concluded that we are at a point where we have to confront this issue. 

Over the coming weeks and months, the Village will work to provide factual information to residents through a variety of means.  As a public body, the Village cannot advocate on behalf of a political question.  However, we can explain the Village’s current financial situation, as well as the various outcomes that the Village’s residents can choose between when they determine if they should support the referendum or not.  We understand that the Village and our residents exist in an era of social media, and we know that there will be the potential for some to spread misinformation, criticism or anger.  We are hopeful that residents understand that our information, and our responses to public inquiries, will strictly adhere to our policy of providing factual information only.  We understand that everyone’s normal, reflexive response to property taxes is to say No!  We get it.  We pay taxes too.

Here’s what we ask.  We ask that you listen, and consider the information we are presenting.  We ask that you come to an informed conclusion.  We know that there are many questions Village residents have about taxes—about SSAs and a host of related issues.  We are going to work hard to answer those questions.

Here is some preliminary, factual information for our residents:

  • The Village’s population is roughly 9,000 residents, and our total general fund expenditures last fiscal year were approximately $2.2M.  It has remained consistent for the past three fiscal years, despite significant increases in costs.
  • Roughly half of our general fund expenditures last year were for the Police Department (roughly $1.1M).
  • By comparison, our neighboring Village of Hampshire has a population of roughly 6,300.  Hampshire’s budget for their Police Department alone is $2.1M—nearly as much as the Village’s entire general fund budget for all departments.  Hampshire has more than twice as many full-time officers as the Village has.
  • The reason our budget is so comparatively low is because the Village is not properly funding its Police Department.
  • Our officers pay for and provide much of their own equipment—from rifles to computers.
  • Our average frontline patrol vehicle has nearly 100,000 miles on it.
  • Our Police Department has had full-time vacancies for over 2 years, as we have been unable to attract qualified candidates because the Village’s starting wages are uncompetitive.
  • A full-time Pingree Grove Police officer makes less than the national average wage for an Assistant Manager at Chipotle.
  • With our current staffing, the Village has to cover patrol shifts with our Chief and Lieutenant.
  • With our current staffing, the Village has single officer shifts every day—where a single officer is responsible for handling all calls and patrolling our entire, growing community of 9,000 residents.
  • We have spent years cutting the Village’s budget and reviewing them in detail.  There isn’t room for more cuts.
  • In the next few years, the Village’s costs to provide even the same level of police protection that we now offer will dramatically increase, based on the legal obligations that the Village will have to take on as we continue to grow.
  • Without expenses to cut, this means that the Village will have to further reduce service levels, and further reduce officer staffing and patrol hours.  With the Village already using single-officer shifts, further reductions in staffing will have significant impacts to our community.
  • The Village has never pursued a property tax referendum—not since its formation in 1907.  We have never asked the public to consider a property tax increase for Village purposes.
  • The Village’s municipal property taxes are the lowest of any community in the County that levies taxes.  Our Village tax rates have actually declined for the past 7 years.
  • We understand that residents are concerned about the taxes that they pay.  The Village’s municipal property taxes represent less than 3% of the property taxes that you pay.  In other words, for every $100 in property taxes that a Village resident pays, the Village’s municipal tax share is only $2.87.
  • In contrast, Elgin Community College receives $6.38, the Fire Protection District receives $9.27, and the School District receives $71.64.
  • We know residents are concerned about SSAs.  The Village is committed to eliminating those SSAs that the Village has control over, if a referendum successfully passes.

We know that residents’ first question will be cost.  Based on data from the US Census Bureau, the impact on the median household in Pingree Grove will be roughly a dollar a day—or potentially even less.  In the coming weeks, we will share information and work to address common resident misconceptions about your property taxes.  The first update will come later this week, where we will walk through Your Tax Bill and the Village.

The updates will be posted each week on the Village's Facebook and Instagram accounts, and on a designated page on the Village's website: Pingree Grove SAFE.  Again, we know that property taxes are unpopular, but we believe that if residents understand the Village's approach to building a sustainable budget for the future, they will understand why our Board had to bring this question to our residents.

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