The Rockford School Board approved a three-year property tax rebate initiative on Tuesday with a goal to create an attractive market for homebuyers and help stabilize neighborhoods. The Homebuyer’s Property Tax Refund Program is for buyers of distressed or newly built homes within the boundaries of the Rockford city limits, RPS 205 and Rockford Park District boundaries.
The School Board voted 6-0 Tuesday to support the intergovernmental agreement; board member Lisa Jackson was absent. The Board suspended the rules to vote on the agreement after only a first reading, instead of waiting for a second reading and vote April 12. The Rockford Park District’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement at its meeting on Tuesday. Once approved by local taxing bodies, the program will be retroactive to the March 17 program announcement and lasts through December 31.
Foreclosures and lack of new construction have dragged down real estate values in recent years. The Rockford School Board has continued to hold the line in the amount of money collected from the total tax base. This incentive program could add homes to that tax base and spread out the tax burden and relieve tax strain.
Superintendent Ehren Jarrett told the School Board on Tuesday he’s hopeful the program makes homebuyers take a second look at RPS 205. “The ultimate bull’s-eye that we’re trying to hit over the next two or three years is to accelerate the growth we’re already anticipating in equalized assessed value,” Jarrett said.
Before the vote, board members thanked other local taxing bodies for considering this plan. Few tax incentives exist for single-family homeowners, despite the fact that approximately 70 percent of the district’s tax base is residential, board member Tim Rollins said. Rollins helped develop the idea with other local taxing body board members. The Home Builders Association of the Greater Rockford Area and the Rockford Area Association of Realtors helped flesh out the plan.
“Getting these distressed properties filled is not going to just improve the value of those specific properties,” said board member David Seigel. “It’s going to make the values of your home go up without you having to do anything. No effort and your property value goes up? Seems like a pretty extraordinary value to me.”
What’s next: The City’s Planning and Development Committee will review the agreement on March 28. If the committee approves it next week, the City Council will consider the agreement on April 4. Other local taxing bodies might also sign on to the program. For more information and to view a list of qualifying properties, visit the program website.