Devastating Property Taxes in McHenry County: A Looming Crisis

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Property taxes in McHenry County, Illinois, have become a major cause of concern for homeowners. Rising taxes have resulted in a sharp decline in home values, putting a strain on residents and forcing some to consider moving out of the area. This article delves into the issue of property taxes in McHenry County, highlighting significant examples and emphasizing the need for a solution. With a focus on the impact on homeowners and the role of pensions, this article aims to shed light on the severity of the problem and its implications for the community.

Brian Urlacher’s Plight

The story begins with Brian Urlacher, the former NFL player, who recently listed his mansion in Lake County for sale. Urlacher bought the property in 2004 for $2.3 million and is now trying to sell it for $2.69 million. However, the real estate market hasn’t been kind to Urlacher. While his property value has decreased by 13% in real dollars over the years, his property tax bill has skyrocketed by 64% since the time of purchase. This scenario highlights the disproportionate impact property taxes have on homeowners, even for those with high-end properties like Urlacher.

The Case of Jamie Trader

Another compelling example is the case of Jamie Trader, who purchased a 5,000 square foot log cabin in McHenry County for $330,000 in 1993. Over the course of 25 years, Trader paid an additional $300,000 in property taxes. When he recently sold the property for $350,000, he incurred a loss of $220,000, demonstrating the alarming decline in home values. Moreover, his property tax bill amounted to 4.9% of the home’s value, further illustrating the burden of property taxes in McHenry County.

The Wider Impact

A closer look at the housing market in McHenry County reveals a troubling trend. In the first six months of 2018, home values in various communities within the county experienced declines. For instance, Bull Valley saw a 1.31% decrease in median sale price, while Cary, Algonquin, Huntley, and Richmond witnessed declines of 2.5%, 3.5%, 5.5%, and 10%, respectively. This downward trend suggests that the issue of property taxes is not isolated but rather a systemic problem affecting the entire county.

Residents’ Fears and Hard Choices

As property taxes continue to rise, residents are growing increasingly alarmed. Many are now contemplating leaving the area before the situation worsens. A Lakewood mayor, for instance, discovered that his annual property tax bill amounted to almost $16,000. In search of relief, he found a ten-acre property in Alabama where the annual property taxes were only $2,000. Crunching the numbers, the mayor determined that he could potentially save over $13,000 per year by moving. This anecdote speaks to the financial strain property taxes impose on families and the difficult decisions they have to make to secure their financial future.

Pensions: The Culprit

One of the primary drivers of high property taxes in McHenry County, and Illinois as a whole, is the funding of pensions. While property tax funds are used for various purposes, pension benefits and salaries constitute a significant portion of school district expenses. The average pension for a retired teacher who worked in Illinois until their 50s is a staggering $2.3 million, an amount that is simply unsustainable for the average resident. As a result, property tax rates reach as high as three to four percent, placing an enormous burden on homeowners.


The property tax crisis in McHenry County is a pressing issue that necessitates immediate attention. The stories of homeowners like Brian Urlacher and Jamie Trader serve as cautionary tales of the dire consequences of escalating property taxes. To prevent further decline in home values and protect the financial well-being of residents, policymakers must address the root cause of this problem: the unsustainable funding of pensions. By implementing effective reforms, McHenry County and Illinois can restore stability to the housing market and alleviate the burden on homeowners. The time for action is now, as more residents contemplate abandoning the area in search of relief from devastating property taxes.

**Note: This rewritten article has a word count of 628 words.

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