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Is a Tax Revolt Brewing?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 6, 2008 3:30PM

Probably not. But in the wake of a series of tax hikes levied around the Chicago area, it seems people are downright pissed.

2008_3_skyline_from_suburbs.jpgIn northwest suburban Palatine, village council members are floating the idea of seceding from Cook County. Like other municipal leaders in towns near the edge of Cook County, council member Scott Lamerand is frustrated with what he sees as the potential loss of revenue to lower taxed counties just across the border. "What really gets me most is it's not only us: It's going to be the schools along with the village, the park district, any taxing body -- the dollars are going to shift from our area," Lamerand told the Chicago Tribune.

Leaving Cook County isn't a new idea. In the late 1970s, a movement started to break six northwest suburban townships away from Cook. Barrington, Hanover, Palatine, Wheeling, Schaumburg, and Elk Grove Village would have made up the proposed Lincoln County, and former Palatine mayor and state senator Wendell Jones pushed the idea for years. Former State Senator Dave Regnar went so far as to propose the legislation before the General Assembly. That proposal died before it came to a vote. In 2004, Blue Island mayor Donald Peloquin tried to organize a coalition of fifty-five South suburban municipalities, also under the Lincoln County name. That proposal would have included everything south of Burbank, and bounded by Orland Park, Calumet City, and Matteson. While the North West movement was motivated by political differences with Chicago, the South Side movement was focused more on economic development, an issue they felt was ignored by Chicago politicians.

Statute 55, Division 1‑3 of state law outlines the legal conditions needed to form a new county. In a nutshell, municipalities that want to secede would need to get a majority of voters in the proposed new county to sign petitions to put the question on the ballot, submit the petitions to the county board, and then convince the board to put the question to a vote of all county residents. Article Seven, Section 2 of the State Constitution provides that a three-fifths majority is needed in that vote to form a new county.

Photo by Phantoms 500