Waiting to hear Chicago suburb advertising lower property tax rates

In recent years, multiple Chicago suburbs have advertised for businesses and residents to move there including Elk Grove Village, Bedford Park, New Lennox, and Lemont. Their pitch often includes mention of the suburb’s transportation advantages, amenities (ranging from water supply to community atmosphere), and available land.

Here is one local feature that is missing from these advertisements: lower property taxes compared to other suburbs or Chicago. This would be a competitive edge in a region where residents and businesses face relatively high property tax rates.

There have to be communities that actually do have lower property taxes. There are a number of suburbs that have higher concentrations of commercial and industrial businesses that provide a good tax base. Industrial parks and office parks provide space for businesses and offices. Many suburbs would want this: the companies help carry more of the local tax burden and this provides extra revenue for the community. In comparison, a bedroom suburb may have really high property taxes because it is primarily residents paying the property taxes and there are limited sales tax revenues.

If the advertisements for suburbs are primarily aimed at businesses and not residents, then perhaps the property tax arguments make less sense. At the same time, a strong existing business base could be very appealing for other firms. Some proof that other businesses have thrived in a suburb plus some opportunities for local synergy in addition to lower taxes could all be very appealing.

In the super competitive race between the Chicago suburbs and the city plus competition from other nearby states like Indiana and Wisconsin (let alone Texas and Florida) for businesses and residents, I am surprised to not hear a property tax appeal. Perhaps this simply means that few Chicago area communities could offer any real advantages in this area. Or, maybe there is some reluctance to tout lower property tax rates. Yet, as suburbs compete, I would expect that their mass appeals will continue to evolve.

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