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Local News

Kendall County officials consider delaying property tax penalties, interest due to COVID-19

File photo: Kendall County Board chairman Scott Gryder listens during a March 3 County Board meeting at the county office building in Yorkville.
File photo: Kendall County Board chairman Scott Gryder listens during a March 3 County Board meeting at the county office building in Yorkville.

UPDATED 7 P.M. TUESDAY, APRIL 7:

YORKVILLE – Kendall County officials are talking about the possibility about delaying property tax penalties and interest due to trickling economic effects from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder said during the board's Tuesday, April 7 remote meeting that other surrounding counties are having similar discussions about the first property tax installment payment, which is due in June for property owners in the county. He said he has been talking with several colleagues about the possibility in order to provide relief for those who lost their jobs, have fallen ill or otherwise might need help with payment.

Gryder said the discussions have reached out to taxing bodies who would be affected and that those taxing bodies, including the Kendall County Health Department, fire officials and school superintendents, since the first installment is the big one for most of those taxing bodies. He said those officials have been receptive to providing that type of relief for residents, but the county wanted to make sure they're taking a practical approach and there aren't any unintended consequences for doing so.

“They need that influx of tax dollars to continue going,” Gryder said.

Kendall County Treasurer Jill Ferko said the tax installment due dates will still be in June and September as per usual. For those who pay property taxes through an escrow account, she said, the first installment might not be as much of a hardship as the second one, since homeowners have theoretically been paying taxes with their mortgage payments for the past several months.

Ferko said the treasurer's should be able to collect the majority of those escrow payments as a result. However, she said, mortgage companies are starting to offer similar financial relief as the county is considering.

"Going forward with those payments, I'm not quite sure how that will [affect] the second installment," Ferko said.

Ferko said the treasurer's office typically collects $300,000 to $350,000 in late fees every year. She said most of those late fees come after the second installment.

Ferko said about 40% of residential property taxes are paid through escrow, according to the treasurer's office's collections. She said the office typically sees escrow payments with residential properties and not commercial properties.

County Board member Tony Giles said that would mean the county is talking about 60% of residential property taxes and probably 100% of commercial property taxes not coming in through escrow.

"So a lot of significant tax dollars is ... what we're talking about here," Giles said. "So that would be kind of a concern that we need to work through those numbers and kind of see where all of the entities that we collect taxes for [are] and what their situations are."

Giles said hopefully those who are still able to pay their residential property taxes still do so and that they understand that holding on to that money isn't going to accrue that much more interest in the next few months. He said he could understand that logic from businesses if they're tempted to use the money they would ordinarily allocate for taxes could help them stay afloat for another few months, and that's a concern of his, too.

"There's no quick and easy answer to it," Giles said. "It's just a difficult question we'll all have to look at."

Gryder said there have been cases where property owners have been filing some type of affidavits to show there's a hardship in order to be exempt from property tax payment. He said that's something Kendall County has been considering, also.

"I'm not saying that that's the route that we'll necessarily go down, but that is something that we are looking at," Gryder said.

The board did not vote on the matter due to it not being explicitly listed as an agenda item for the Tuesday remote meeting.

The next County Board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 21. Additional meeting information can be found on the county's calendar at co.kendall.il.us.

Ferko said the county office building where the treasurer's office is located, 111 W. Fox St., is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said a drop box for those payments has been installed outside of the building and the payments can also be mailed in.

At any rate, Ferko said, residents have until June to submit their first property tax payment to the county.

"Hopefully everything will be a little bit better by then," Ferko said.

Meanwhile, the County Board voted, 10-0, to approve COVID-19 temporary job-related travel restrictions and guidelines for remote work during the Tuesday remote meeting.

County Board members voted, 10-0, to approve a 48 month internet contract between Comcast Inc. and Kendall County for a total amount of $36,384 during the Tuesday meeting. The board also voted, 10-0, to approve a bid from Current Tehcnologies Corporation as part of the county's 2020 information technology network infrastructure project for $144,782.77.

There was no additional discussion for the three matters before the vote during the Tuesday remote meeting.

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