Dear Business Leader,
We are writing to you today to ask for your help - to join us in urging all elected leaders to keep their respective property tax levy flat and, if able, to reduce it.
In collaboration with the Rockford Public School District, we have made good progress in reducing our property tax rate. In 2016, our property tax rate was a staggering 15.1059. In 2021, our property tax rate had been reduced to 12.2563. This represents a nearly 20% reduction in our overall rate. This is a culmination of governments not increasing their levies and investments in our neighborhoods and business districts leading to higher values.
But let us be very clear - we realize property taxes are still too high for our residents and business owners. Both the City and RPS 205 have made a concerted effort to reduce our portions of the property tax bill for Rockford residents. The Rockford City Council and City administration, as well as the RPS 205 School Board and administration, have committed to hold the line and keep the tax levy flat for the better part of a decade.
At the City, we’ve decreased our tax rate by 36% since 2017, while expanding value in the programs and services we provide. We have dropped our property tax levy two of the last five years and have not increased our levy in nine years. In fact, by not taking the maximum allowed on our levy (what we have historically done), we have left an estimated $72 million in property taxes in the hands of our residents and our business owners from 2017-2023.
The school district has also done its part to alleviate the burden on our tax payers. For example, in 2012, the school board and administration agreed to give back 58 cents from the levy following a tax referendum – which meant losing out on $16 million in annual tax revenue. That same tax cycle, the board and administration agreed to keep the levy flat, instead of collecting increases for inflation or credits. RPS 205 has saved taxpayers a projected $378 million over the last decade in uncollected property taxes.
However, these two organizations are only 2 of eleven taxing bodies in Winnebago County. Each year, the City and RPS 205 leadership have encouraged all of the other taxing bodies to reduce or keep their levy flat and have done so with great success. This year, more than ever, it is extremely important, and I need your help. This year is the quadrennial reassessment – that means that each and every property will be reassessed. I strongly believe the reassessment will lead to high property values and, if we couple these property value increases with no new property tax increases, we can reduce our property tax rate. A reduction in our rate will make our community more
attractive as a relocation destination for residents and businesses, as well as help keep our current residents and businesses here.
The other taxing bodies on the majority of City of Rockford property tax bills include Rockford Park District, Rockford Public Library, Rock Valley College, Winnebago County, Winnebago County Forest Preserve, Rockford Township, Four Rivers Sanitation Authority and Chicago Rockford International Airport. While some of these agencies are a small portion of the total bill, they are still critical. Each and every increase is significant to our residents.
Here are increases by percentages for the last five years:
Forest Preserve 9%
Park District 6%
Winnebago County 4%
Rockford Township Roads 3%
Four Rivers Sanitation Authority 1%
Rockford Township 1%
We need your help in encouraging all of the other taxing bodies to decrease or keep their levy flat. It’s important you join the effort and act NOW. Municipalities and units of governments run on various fiscal cycles. Some begin in October, so decisions are being made now. We’ve attached a sample letter, as well as a list of the all of the board members for each taxing body. We’d like as many people as possible to contact the elected leadership of these organizations and urge them to take a strong stand on high property taxes.
We want Rockford to be a community where people choose to live, work, learn and play. Rockford’s tax rate is now competitive, in large part, because of the City and RPS 205. We know it can be even more competitive with the support and dedication of the other local taxing bodies to keep their levy flat.