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Emotions once again run high during Truth in Taxation meeting

Stacey Hawkins speaks during the Truth in Taxation meeting. Photo by Joe Friedrichs
Stacey Hawkins speaks during the Truth in Taxation meeting. Photo by Joe Friedrichs

Opinions, statistics and tax dollars were the cynosures in an hour-long discussion at the Cook County Courthouse tonight, as 10 people addressed the Board of Commissioners to share a mix of emotions and thoughts on property tax increases and the 2019 county budget.
 
The commissioners’ room was just over half full before the 6 p.m. start time Thursday, and several local residents continued to arrive as the Truth in Taxation meeting started.
 
Cook County residents began receiving their proposed 2019 tax statements toward the middle of November. The proposed increase for Cook County is currently at 5.99%. A final levy and budget must be adopted on or before December 28.
 
Many of the sentiments addressed to the commissioners and several members of county staff from the public focused on the fact continually rising property taxes were problematic for some local residents.
 
Local resident Lloyd Speck engaged in a heated conversation with County Administrator Jeff Cadwell and the county board during the public comment period of the meeting. Occasionally using vulgar language and continuing to speak his angst after his allotted time was up, Speck questioned how the county board operates and spends local taxpayer dollars.
 
Meanwhile, the county board sat mostly stone-faced as accusations were directed at them, including Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk, whom Speck said should resign from her post.
 
Cadwell occasionally responded to Speck’s statements, though not at length.
 
“This is not a trial, Lloyd Speck,” Cadwell said.
 
There were other moments of strong emotion during Thursday’s Truth in Taxation meeting, including stories of individuals struggling to make ends meet and those simply stating they might have to move away from Cook County due to the high cost of living. At one point, a local taxpayer pulled out his pocket void of any cash or coin and said rising taxes were a problem for him.
 
On the other side of the equation, some local taxpayers – though far fewer than those who spoke against the tax increases – were more sympathetic to the situation the county board faces with regard to budget priorities and where tax dollars are spent.
 
And while the commissioners heard a variety of voices about the levy and 2019 budget, during a Truth in Taxation meeting the board does not take action to set or lower the levy.
 
The next meeting of the county board is Tuesday, Dec. 11.
 

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