Vernon Township voters will be asked if they would pay higher taxes to support the Community Mental Health Board.
The question for the November ballot will be whether the town should levy an annual tax for providing mental health facilities and services, including for people with a developmental disability or substance use disorder.
The no-nonsense tax would increase property taxes by $12.33 per year for a $100,000 home or about $49 per year for a $400,000 home. If approved, the new tax would generate $1.2 million to $1.3 million annually, according to Township Supervisor Jonathan Altenberg.
He emphasized that the town had reduced the tax levy by 12% to 15% in recent years, and was working on a request submitted to the board of directors for consideration. The board voted 5-0 to put the question on the ballot paper.
“We are not looking to introduce another tax (tax),” Altenberg said. And that leaves them (the townspeople).”
Vernon is joining several other Chicago-area entities that plan to ask voters similar questions in November. That includes Wheeling Township, where last month supporters submitted more than twice the number of signatures needed to get the question on the ballot.
However, given Buffalo Grove’s split between the towns of Vernon and Wheeling, the village’s bequest called Joan Johnson to ask a question about the ballots in both towns. She said having it at the town level rather than the village level would avoid confusion.
“I thought it would take out a patchwork of services,” said Johnson, who took the case to Vernon Township officials.
State lawmaker Dan Dydek of Buffalo Grove said state law allows local governments to hold a referendum to establish community mental health boards. He added that citizens can either submit a petition to the local entity or issue a resolution to the board of directors.
There are currently 98 mental health boards or committees in Illinois. If approved, the Vernon Township Community Mental Health Board will be the first in Lake County.
“There is a movement now to create more of them,” Didek said.
Dedic said the law set specific tax rates, which the town of Vernon thought would generate too much funding.
He and 30th state senator Adrian Johnson successfully introduced legislation that would allow an amount less than the maximum sought after.
Joan Johnson said the local council will benefit residents by promoting a coordinated set of mental health, developmental disability and substance use services for all residents of Vernon Township.
Advocates say the local council, as opposed to a county or state entity, will be more responsive, provide better accountability and work for the benefit of local residents.
“To me, it’s very attractive on a local level (rather than) trying to do it in a larger jurisdiction,” Dedic said.