Guest editorial: Help protect community funds

By on May 26, 2011

by Dave Anderson
Elburn Village President

In 1969, the first-ever state income tax was authorized by the governor and state legislature in the state of Illinois. Before being enacted, an agreement was reached that essentially stated that if municipalities would not enact an income tax of their own, the state of Illinois would send a portion of the income tax collected back to them, based upon the municipality’s most recent census statistics. This process is commonly known as the Local Government Distributive Fund, or LGDF.

LGDF monies are extremely important to municipalities, as they aid in providing necessary and vital services within the community, such as police protection, snow plowing, and other services provided on a daily basis by police and public works employees. And the return of these funds from the state to the municipalities seems only fitting, as the source of the funding is our fair share of the income tax dollars that we all pay as residents of Illinois. In Elburn’s case, LGDF funds comprise roughly 30 percent of our general budget fund, which equates to about $130,000.

This year, a 66 and 2/3 percent income tax increase was passed by the governor and state legislature, with the municipalities slated to receive no portion of the increased funds collected. The legislation that was passed actually decreased the municipal share of LGDF funds from 10 percent to 6 percent. And there is current discussion taking place in Springfield that would further reduce, or even entirely eliminate, the distribution of LGDF funds to municipalities in the future.

The issue, it seems to me and many others, is one of spending—not income. In the last two years, the Village of Elburn has reduced staff and expenses by close to $300,000. The Board of Trustees, along with the administration staff, has worked diligently to determine which services provided by the village are critical and must continue without interruption, as well as identifying those areas where budget cuts could be made without negatively impacting the well-being and quality of life of our residents. Although these decisions are always arduous and difficult to make, Elburn has and will continue to do its part in this regard.

I cannot stress enough that any action taken by Springfield to reduce or eliminate LGDF funds will not be seamless to our residents. On the contrary, such action will have a major effect on the village of Elburn’s ability to provide the level of service that our residents have come to expect from us, and will impact activities that serve as the underpinnings of the pride we take in ensuring that Elburn remains an ideal place to live, work and play.

In short, to withhold or eliminate any portion of the taxes paid by our residents—which is due to come back to us, as originally agreed upon many years ago—is wrong.

I urge our citizens to make your voice heard by calling, e-mailing or writing your state representatives to let them know your feelings regarding the adverse impact this legislation will have on your community.