January 25, 2016
State Laws You Should Know
Bill Ward, Executive Vice President, HBAI
“Farmland Preservation” is a warm, cozy term for the practice of taxing property owners for the purpose of purchasing the development rights on the property they own with the money they paid. Here at HBAI, we refer to the socialist practice of government owning land simply for the control of its use as the “Purchasing of Development Rights.” Ironically, HBAI has fought mostly Republican lawmakers representing high-growth areas of the state for years on this issue, and we have won every time.
Even after the Great Recession hit, state legislators continued to press for the government control of private property. The last bill that got anywhere in the process was HB1082, which was introduced in 2011, three years into the housing bust.
The bill would have allowed counties in northeastern Illinois to levy a property tax for farmland preservation easement and green development purposes. The tax could not exceed 0.05% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property in the county.
Funds derived from the tax would then be used to purchase the development rights on property in-perpetuity…forever. Potentially, one county board could decide the use of properties for centuries to come. Now that’s long range planning!
HB1082 had no limitations on what amount could be paid for the development rights. Not that it would ever happen in Illinois, but this scenario certainly sets the table for a situation where a chosen few landowners receive the bear’s share of tax dollars for selling their development rights while continuing to farm their property.
This particular bill was defeated in the House Counties & Townships Committee with opposition coming from HBAI, the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, the Operating Engineers Local 150, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.
Attempts made with other bills in previous years have managed to pass in the Illinois Senate, but we’ve always been able to get this issue stopped in the Illinois House. So for now, the law is this: if local government wants to save property from home ownership, they cannot merely purchase the development rights. The property must be purchased in whole which greatly deters county boards from practicing the art of socialism (on this issue) here in Illinois.