Tax bill will bring good news – a rebate

Local homeowners will find something to help ease the pain when they open their property tax bills next month.

That mailing will include instructions on how to apply for a rebate from the $15 million that the McHenry County Board voted last week to return to taxpayers from the surplus at Valley Hi Nursing Home.

In an 18-6 vote, the board approved a rebate from a $40 million surplus at Valley Hi as well as a study of adding a 20-bed dementia wing to the county-run facility.

“We’re delivering tax relief while strengthening Valley Hi’s mission to care for our indigent seniors.,” board Chairman Jack Franks said in a news release. “That mission will be improved, courtesy of the long and thoughtful debates the County Board has had in the months leading up to the vote.”

Franks proposed the rebate last fall, saying the surplus had been created by years of overtaxing McHenry County property owners.

An individual rebate will be almost 30 percent of the county’s portion of last year’s property tax bill. Homeowners will be referred to an online form on the website of the county treasurer’s office to determine eligibility.

To be eligible, a homeowner had to have taken the homestead exemption during the 2017 tax year (for bills payable in 2018) and had to have paid the taxes. A homeowner exempt from paying property taxes under the disabled veterans homestead exemption do not qualify.

About 88,000 properties in McHenry County could potentially qualify, according to the news release. As an example, a homeowner whose property tax bill last year included $500 to county government would get almost $150 back.

Unclaimed funds from the rebate will go back to Valley Hi.

Even after the rebate, Valley Hi will still have at least two years of reserve funding.

“I know of no other government doing this,” Franks said in the news release.

The rebate was supported by county administrative staff, Valley Hi Administrator Tom Annarella, and a private firm retained by the county to audit and monitor Valley Hi’s finances, according to the news release.

“Valley Hi Nursing Home is a treasure and a testament to McHenry County’s caring and generous spirit, and to county government’s fiscal discipline,” Franks said.

At its May 2 meeting, the Public Health and Community Services Committee of the County Board will seek a “request for qualifications” to do a market study to determine the feasibility of building a dementia wing at Valley Hi, Franks’ release reported.