Madison County voters can decide whether to cut their property taxes in November, the county officer’s electoral board decided on July 6.
Board members announced that their review of petitions for a tax cut referendum found 8,302 valid signatures, 278 more than the necessary number.
They rejected 1,683 signatures among 9,985 that county Treasurer Kurt Prenzler and other proponents submitted for a validation rate of 83 percent.
“The law in Illinois requires a much lower validity rate in order to find a deliberate and utter indifference to the election code,” wrote the board, comprised of County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza, former judge James Hackett and former assistant state’s attorney Stephanie Robbins.
“The objectors did not meet their burden of proof that there was an organized framework of fraud.
“There were errors made in collection of petition signatures, but those errors did not constitute fraud or a deliberate and utter indifference to the election code.”
Hackett opened by saying that the board worked hard to avoid politics. He said there had been a great deal of misinformation concerning the proceedings. He also said he wanted to dispel a rumor that the proceedings cost taxpayers money.
He praised Ming-Mendoza and her staff for doing commendable work.
“All this work was performed within their normal capacities.” Hackett said.
He criticized “the sniping and the comments disparaging her office” saying they were “disappointing to me.”
The board criticized Prenzler and deputy treasurer Doug Hulme for failing to “adequately train circulators of their petitions.”
Supporters of the property tax cut referendum were represented by Don Weber and James Craney.
After the board issued its decision, Weber provided a statement.
“Defending Kurt Prenzler’s integrity is the easiest job I ever had in court,” he wrote. “The taxpayers and voters won. The Democrat party bosses’ attempt to hijack Democracy failed.”