CRETE | A Crete village trustee said, as much as he loves his home and his neighborhood, factors could make him -- and other Illinois residents -- move to Indiana.
Trustee Dean Gaffney said during a Village Board meeting Monday he thinks his colleagues need to work harder to offer residents more reasons to stay in Crete, rather than make the move three miles to the east.
“We’re up against it folks,” said Gaffney, waving a newspaper story describing two of the top five Chicago-area communities for new home construction are in Northwest Indiana.
“We have to give people a reason to want to stick around,” Gaffney said. “I love this town, but I’m a realist.”
He pointed to Village Board members and asked, “Where will we be in five to seven years? I don’t know if I’ll still be here.”
Gaffney said he doesn’t know exactly what it is that village officials need to do or to offer in order to keep residents in the village near the border.
“We had an identity as being an 'antiquing town.' But that’s not enough anymore,” Gaffney said.
Village President Michael Einhorn said the problem lies with inequities in the way Illinois and Indiana use taxes to fund their government operations.
He gave an example of someone with a home in Indiana valued at $300,000, who would pay $3,000 annually. In Crete, that same-valued home would come with a $9,000 tax bill, Einhorn said.
While he didn’t disagree with Gaffney’s suggestion of trying to offer more incentives to keep residents, Einhorn said the long-term solution is to attract more business and industry rather than relying on residential property taxes.
“We have to expand our tax base to include industrial and commercial,” Einhorn said.
Einhorn also said he wishes trustees and village residents would contact Illinois General Assembly members with complaints.
“They need to hear it from other people,” he said. “When I call, they dismiss it as coming from that 'Pain in the Ass' Einhorn.”
Gaffney said his rant was motivated in part by receiving his property tax bill during the past week. He said he’s facing a $1,000 increase compared to what he paid last year.
Gaffney said he blames Illinois state government and the Crete-Monee School District 201U for running up taxes.
“I don’t have any love for the south suburbs, the district or the state of Illinois,” Gaffney said. “But I love Crete and my neighborhood, and I’d love to stay.”