GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) – The Ford County Board released the agenda for the board meeting late last week.
Notably missing from the agenda was any mention of addressing the miscalculated tax bills for Gibson City residents, leaving residents and local leaders in Gibson City unsettled.
Ford County Clerk and Recorder Amy Frederick’s office told WCIA on Friday that the issue was not going to be discussed at the Ford County Board Meeting scheduled for Monday, September 12th at 7:00 p.m. in the Sheriff’s board room at the jail.
We reached out to Gibson City Mayor Daniel Dickey about the issue.
It’s frustrating to see a lack of progress in resolving the miscalculated property tax bills that the Ford County Clerk’s Office sent out, he said.
Mayor Dickey’s office held a meeting with representatives from the county and the city on August 26th.
Since then, he said he’s heard and seen little in the way of progress to address the issue.
He released a statement to WCIA about the issue and addressed some of the problems he sees resulting from this situation.
Fisher and Champaign County had a similar issue, the Mayor pointed out. That was “resolved in a timely manner,” he said.
Dickey said he has reached out to Ford County officials several times about the issue, and the City has even offered to pay half of the costs incurred towards properly adjusting tax bills through a third-party company.
To date, Dickey says he has not received a response from the County following his offers.
Tax bills in Ford County went out late this year, not arriving for many until mid to late August.
The first installment of Ford County’s property tax bills is due September 23rd, while the second bill is due November 18th.
Mayor Dickey says there is still time to adjust the bills so taxpayers aren’t paying more than they have too.
Statement from Mayor Dan Dickey:
The intent of this statement is to primarily inform the citizens of Gibson City regarding the City portion of the property tax bills we recently received and what has transpired over the last several weeks.
In the late afternoon of Monday, August 22nd I received a phone call from an upset Gibson City resident asking why there was a substantial increase of City of Gibson property taxes. I told the taxpayer that I did not know as I had not received my property tax bills and that the City did not raise property taxes. I assured them that we would look into it the next morning and get back to them. I also released a statement later that evening on FB acknowledging the same as there were many questions and comments on social media. I personally did not receive my property tax bills in the mail until Friday, August 26th.
The next day (Tuesday, August 23rd) we found that the Tax Abatement Ordinance that we filed with Ford County was not applied to the tax formula resulting in a much higher rate for the City portion of the property tax bills for Gibson City residents and businesses. Earlier our admin office did receive a verification form from the County, but did not catch the county’s mistake and signed the form and sent it back.
We asked to meet with county officials and had a meeting with them the following Friday on August 26th at 10:00 AM at the Ford County Courthouse in Paxton. Present at the meeting was State’s Attorney Andrew Killian, Ford County Clerk and Recorder Amy Frederick, Gibson City Attorney Marc Miller, Gwen Crawford VP, Financial Analysis of The Economic Development Group, Ltd., Gibson City Clerk Jan Hall and myself.
We discussed the situation and asked them to explore solutions on how to remedy the mistake. We also explained how the mistake, if not corrected sooner than later, will impact many of our citizens and businesses including our senior citizens on fixed incomes, hard working citizens trying to make ends meet and home buyers with taxes held and paid through escrowed accounts. We also discussed that we believe putting this off until next year will create a hardship on many of our residents as the cost of food, gas, utilities, healthcare and other inflation related items continue to increase. Many of our residents are already having a tough time. We also discussed potential impacts to our Tax Increment Finance districts if the mistake is not corrected as soon as possible and by waiting until next year will only compound the situation. During our meeting we agreed to release a joint statement which we posted later in the day on the Gibson City FB page.
On Tuesday, August 30th I emailed State’s Attorney Killian and offered that the City of Gibson is willing to pay 50% of costs incurred towards remedying the situation such as, but not limited to printing and postage. Later, we also offered to help by providing volunteers to assist Ford County in anyway we can to help complete any tasks or labor that will be necessary.
Again, later in the week we heard that Ford County was contacting their tax software contractor which we believe is Computer Information Concepts, Inc. with corporate headquarters based in Greeley, CO to find out the cost to recalculate and reprint corrected tax bills and other associated tasks or items necessary to mail corrected property tax bills to Gibson City residents and businesses. To date we have not received a response from the county.
On September 8th at 9:00 AM our City Clerk attended a Ford County Finance Committee meeting to further discuss the situation and to answer any questions. I was not able to attend the meeting as I already had a City meeting scheduled to discuss residential development.
During the past several weeks we have also discussed this situation with the Executive Director, Brad Cole of the Illinois Municipal League, the Village of Fisher and Champaign County Treasurer Cassandra Johnson. They have all been very helpful.
The Village of Fisher had a very similar situation last year and worked with Champaign County to resolve the issue in a timely manner that benefitted Fisher and Champaign County residents. At this time we believe we should be able to do the same, but time is of the essence.
We look forward to continue working with Ford County officials towards an expeditious remedy resulting in the correction of Gibson City property tax bills. With the information we have so far, we believe this can happen. As mentioned above, time is of the essence.
Mayor – Gibson City, IL