Sullivan advocates for property tax freeze during Committee of the Whole meeting Friday

Illinois REALTORS®Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Julie Sullivan prepared to speak during a Committee of the Whole hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives on Friday.  Source: Illinois General Assembly

The Illinois General Assembly has been back in Springfield this week for a special session, and Illinois REALTORS® Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Julie Sullivan testified before a Committee of the Whole held in the Illinois House on Friday.

Sullivan was part of a series of speakers on Friday advocating for a property tax freeze. A freeze is a subject of negotiation as lawmakers grapple with how to pass a budget for the state. Sullivan said this was the first time in her decades at the association she had been asked to present before a Committee of the Whole.

Because Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the U.S., Illinois REALTORS® has long advocated for some type of property tax relief.

High property taxes are preventing young consumers across the state from becoming first-time home buyers, said Sullivan, while other homeowners say they can make their house payments but struggle to pay their property taxes. Senior citizens can feel the effects of rising property taxes when their incomes are fixed.

“It affects all levels of homeowners and small businesses as well,” said Sullivan. “It has a cascading effect.”

Sullivan said the association is also supportive of measures which would allow for consolidation of some of the state’s record number of taxation districts.

Illinois leads the U.S. in the number of government entities, and Illinois REALTORS® has long held that there is a direct correlation between the number of taxing bodies and the high level of property taxes.

 

Elwood nixes 2-year old fire sprinkler mandate

Source: Bigstock

It all started with a text message.

Nearly a year later, the village of Elwood killed a policy mandating costly fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new residential construction.

The move on Wednesday is significant because Elwood stood alone in Will County as having the policy, one which property rights advocates say can add $10,000 or more to the cost of building a home.

REALTOR® Matt Persicketti

In that July 2016 text message to Illinois REALTORS® Member Outreach Manager and Local Government Affairs Director Gideon Blustein, Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® president-elect, Matt Persicketti texted Gideon to see what could be done about the Village’s strict requirement for residential fire sprinklers in all new construction.

Persicketti had a homebuilder client who had run into red-tape with the Village of Elwood in the middle of a construction project. Because of the sprinkler regulation, his future homeowners would ultimately have to pay more than $10,000 in unforeseen costs. The price was especially high because they had to have a special water main installed to accommodate the required sprinkler system.

The situation prompted Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® members and Blustein to repeatedly reach out to then Village President, William Offerman.

Offerman also serves as the Fire Chief in Elwood, and efforts to discuss the policy with him were unsuccessful.

Many weeks later, when Elwood hired a new Village Manager, REALTORS® finally got a meeting with the municipality’s staff.

Gideon Blustein, Illinois REALTORS®

In preparation, Blustein pulled the number of new residential building permits for Elwood and the surrounding communities; the numbers were staggering. While surrounding communities had seen steady growth over the past few years, Elwood’s growth was basically stagnant. Armed with these numbers and the RVOICE brochure, “The Impacts of Mandating Residential Fire Sprinklers,” Blustein met with the village’s staff. While they found the arguments compelling, they relayed that the issue was unlikely to gain favor with the village’s president and board.

In April, Offerman was ousted by a challenger, Todd Matichak, who stressed in his campaign that he wanted to see the sprinkler mandate rolled back.

In advance of Matichak’s first official meeting as Village President, he worked with the village board to shore up the votes necessary to repeal the residential fire sprinkler mandate.

Blustein assisted by sharing the RVOICE brochure and a letter outlining our opposition with Board members. Among the efforts to obtain a repeal:

  • REALTOR® Jim Sim

    Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® Immediate Past President Jim Sim stepped to the podium to speak out against the residential fire sprinkler mandate.

  • Blustein provided updated residential building permit statistics for areas surrounding Elwood which showed their growth as Elwood’s recorded stagnate numbers.
  • And the board was given as evidence the quote from the property owners whose case prompted the debate.

With arguments made, the vote on whether to repeal the residential fire sprinkler mandate was the final item on the June 21 agenda. The measure repealing the sprinkler mandate was adopted with a 5-1 vote in favor of repealing the fire sprinkler mandate.

After the meeting, property owners, builders and Blustein congratulated and thanked Matichak and board members for their leadership.

Matichak urged homebuilders to get to work building in the community.

VIDEO: RPAC Hall of Fame and Illinois REALTOR® of the Year ceremonies

At this week’s June business meetings, Illinois REALTORS® honored several of its members in two ceremonies.

Monday, eight REALTORS® were inducted into the RPAC Hall of Fame for attaining a lifetime giving level of $25,000. Six additional RPAC Hall of Fame inductees achieved $50,000 in lifetime giving. Additionally, Illinois REALTORS® CEO Gary Clayton was honored for achieving the $75,000 threshold.

Tuesday night was the Illinois REALTOR® of the Year banquet at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Sue Miller, Managing Broker of Coldwell Banker-the Real Estate Group in McHenry, Illinois, was named Illinois REALTOR® of the Year. Along with Miller, 24 other REALTORS® of the Year from local associations throughout Illinois were recognized.

Governmental Affairs team watching out for REALTORS® during holiday weekend

Lobbyists Greg St. Aubin and Julie Sullivan won’t be doing any grilling this weekend because they’ll monitoring legislative activity at the State Capitol on behalf of REALTORS® and property owners.

While REALTORS® try to squeeze in a picnic, a barbecue or a sporting event sometime during the Memorial Day weekend, the Illinois REALTORS® statehouse lobbyists are monitoring activity at the State Capitol.

The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 31 and many bills are under consideration that could affect REALTORS® and property owners they represent. And of course, legislators are also working to resolve the state budget crisis. Since the House is scheduled to meet Sunday and Monday and the Senate is scheduled to meet Monday, lobbyists figure to have a very busy weekend keeping up with advancing legislation.

 

 

RPAC by the numbers

During “Invest” week of REALTOR® Advocacy Month, consider several important numbers supplied by REALTOR® Political Action Committee.

For example, our REALTOR® PAC is recognized as one of the most bipartisan PACs in the country, supporting both Republican and Democratic candidates.

The estimated tax savings from the Mortgage Interest Deduction for the average taxpayer who owns a $200,000 home with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 5 percent is — $3,500.

RPAC gave zero dollars to presidential candidates during the 2016 elections, choosing instead to support REALTOR®-friendly candidates in local, state, U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections.

Remember to vote, act and invest to make a difference!

(The REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) solicits contributions from Illinois REALTORS® members only.)