Bill to Aid Harrisburg Advances

Southern Illinois tornado victims may find it easier to rebuild after this year's deadly tornado... as legislation in Springfield aimed at holding the line on property taxes advances.

The proposal would cap property taxes for people who lost their homes in a natural disaster, such as the tornadoes which ripped through the Harrisburg area Feb. 29.


Local governments would have to freeze property taxes from the year before the tornado, in cases in which the homeowner has built a new home. The value of that new home would have to be within 110 percent of the value of the home which was destroyed.


State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) says many people in his district are on fixed incomes and can’t afford the higher property taxes, which would come their way if a new house were assessed at its full value vs. the older homes in town.


“In a way [local governments are] kind of taking advantage of them,” Forby says, “because that individual wasn’t planning on a hurricane or a tornado or flood or something like that.”


The proposal faced criticism; however, no one voted against the bill. Critics say the proposal had holes and that victims of former natural disasters got by without legislation. That doesn’t sit well with Forby.


“What’s wrong with having stuff better? What’s wrong with helping people?” Forby says. “Why push people out on the streets that shouldn’t be out there? It wasn’t their fault it caused a tornado out there.”


If the proposal passes the Senate it will go to the governor. The legislation is House Bill 4242.