MORRIS – Grundy County could be the testing ground for having an elected supervisor of assessments, but not if Grundy County has anything to say about it.
On Tuesday, the Grundy County Board passed a resolution stating it did not support a bill currently in the General Assembly that could turn the Supervisor of Assessments into an elected position.
If passed, the bill would put forth a referendum to the voters of Grundy County in 2020 to determine if they want the position elected. Currently, the position is an appointed position.
House Bill 3317 was introduced in March as a bill dealing with units of government going through consolidation. State Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, signed on as a co-sponsor April 9.
On April 9, he also introduced the amendment that singles out Grundy County for the elected supervisor of assessments change.
There is a similar bill before the General Assembly that would give the decision-making power to the counties. That bill, which would apply statewide, would allow voters to petition to have the question put to a vote.
“Currently, in the state statute the supervisor of assessments position is at the discretion of the County Board,” said Tom Hougas, Grundy County supervisor of assessments.
Hougas said several organizations, including the Illinois Assessors Association, are supportive of the statewide bill, but against the bill targeting Grundy County.
“The bill that is singling out Grundy County is taking the authority you already have out of your hands,” Hougas told the board.
If the position were elected, Hougas said, it would be a revolving door every four years because the assessor is “perceived” to be the one who sets the taxes every year.
“You don’t want the supervisor of assessments going out to raise campaign donations to otherwise dirty the integrity of the office,” Hougas said.
Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland said he has never seen a county singled out like this. He said he spoke to the representatives involved and there was nobody better informed who the assessor should be than the County Board. He echoed Hougas’ concern over campaign donations to an assessor.
“Is the tax assessor for sale?” he asked. “Did that work in Cook County? Did that work for Joe Berrios? Grundy County’s not Cook County. The County Board needs to maintain the appointment authority of the appointment of the tax assessor.”
County Board member Ken Iverson asked why Grundy County was singled out. Hougas said he asked Welter but received “no clear indication as to why.”
Helland said that when he asked, he was told Grundy County was going to be a pilot program.
Welter did not return a call from the Morris Herald-News.