'Harry's not a clown. He works. He's built a real organization. The Democrats hadn't an idea in 20 years when Harry came'

Johnson still carried Champaign County by more than 2,100: "The county organization helped greatly in both campaigns," he says. When Johnson became state's attorney, he brought from Cook County as his assistant a former law school classmate, a Black retired Army officer named James Burgess. In the election in which Johnson ran for Congress, Burgess succeeded him as state's attorney, the first Black ever elected to Champaign County office.

More for the Democrats
And consider the makeup of the County Board of Supervisors. In 1960 it was, as usual for those days, 21-6 Republican. After the 1972 election, it was 16-11 Republican, with three newly elected women Democrats—the first to hold such offices. Now the count is GOP, 14; Democrats, 13. Or look at the city council of Urbana, elected on partisan tickets. In the 1960's the old 4th Ward—hermetically sealed off by Republican-set boundaries—usually contributed one lonely Democrat. Now, in 1975, Urbana Democrat Mayor Hiram Paley presides over eight Democrats, four Republicans, and two Independents. Indeed, in the recent April election the Republicans for the first time in the city's history failed to offer a full slate.

Tiebout, at least publicly, derives no great joy from this last evidence of Republican discomfiture. "You've got to have a two-party system," he maintains. "I try to preach the gospel of the party system. After all, what's the alternative?" Tiebout not only values political parties, he values and likes politicians. "They're pleasant people," he says. "Successful ones have the ability to compromise; a sense of humility and of their own limitations; a tolerance for people as they are—people, in all their ambiguities and confusion." 

Tax relief for the elderly: How much and how to get it
AS MUCH AS $600 a year in tax relief grants is now available to senior and disabled citizens of Illinois under the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief Act (the so-called "circuit breaker" law). Grants up to $500 were available under the original 1972 law to the elderly or permanently disabled who pay property taxes (or rent) on homes (including those in nursing and sheltered care homes). Recent additions provide between $50 and $100 more to these people—and now also to senior and disabled citizens who live in housing exempt from property taxes.

The new cash grants are based solely on the applicant's income. They were authorized by the legislature under Senate Bill 62, signed into law April 23 by Gov. Dan Walker as Public Act 797.

To qualify for the new, income-based tax relief, a person must:

(1) Have been 65 years old or permanently disabled on or before January 1.

(2) Have an annual household income of less than $10,000.

(3) Be a resident of Illinois at the time the grant application is filed.

These are the same basic requirements a person must meet to qualify for property tax relief. The one additional qualification for that program is that the applicant owe property taxes or have paid rent on a residence subject to the property tax or have paid privilege taxes on his mobile home residence. Because the first three qualifications are similar for both programs, anyone qualified for property tax relief is qualified automatically for a grant under the new program.

The new grants are figured by multiplying the amount of income by a percentage established by the new law for that income level. The multipliers and grant ranges for other income levels are:



    Grant Range


























Finally, there is a provision in the circuit breaker law which increases property tax relief for senior and disabled persons who rent their homes. Retroactive to the 1974 property tax year, this new section increases the amount of rent counted as the renter's property tax bill from 25 to 30 per cent.

But this part of the law does not become effective until January 1, 1976. As a result, renters' property tax relief this year will continue to be computed at the 25 per cent level.

The additional 5 per cent to which renters are entitled for 1974 taxes will be computed and added automatically to their property tax relief grants in 1976. The Department of Revenue, which administers the law, will compute renters' property tax relief payments at the full 30 per cent level after next, January 1.

One form, IL-1363, serves as the application form for both the property tax relief and additional tax relief programs. The form is available from the Department of Revenue, Circuit Breaker Section, Box 4017, Springfield, 111. 62708. Revenue Director Robert H. Allphin believes the single form may help get additional tax relief to senior and disabled persons who are not aware of the property tax relief program. If people filing for the income-based grant also owe property taxes and complete the questions related to them, the department will check to see whether they're eligible also for property tax relief.

Allphin said some people who had incomes of less than $10,000 did not qualify for property tax relief in past years, and he said the revenue department encouraged them to apply lor the new tax relief program. "The circuit breaker law provides for relief where property taxes exceed four per cent of the qualified applicant's income," he said. "If taxes didn't exceed $240 for the person whose annual income was $6,000, for example, he would not be eligible. But we urge anyone to re-appy since the new grant program does not require that the person have paid property taxes. Any Illinois resident who is 65 or older or permanently disabled and has an annual household income of less than $10,000 is qualified." 

202 /Illinois Issues/July 1975

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