Expensive Mobile Homes Bypass Taxes New Type of Trailer Park Irks Some Taxpayers
Mohr, Robin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Robin Mohr Daily Herald Staff Writer
The owner of a $150,000 two-bedroom ranch home in Vernon Hills will pay $3,740 in property taxes this year.
The resident with the same priced home in Mundelein pays $3,754.
And in Lake Zurich, the tax would be $3,118.
But in the Saddlebrook Farms retirement community in Round Lake Park, property taxes aren't paid on the stylish, two- and three-bedroom homes that dot the growing subdivision.
Some of the houses may feature fireplaces, two baths and carry price tags between $102,500 and $219,000, but the upscale housing is really a trailer park in disguise.
And since mobile housing isn't taxed like real estate, the tax revenue collected from the subdivision nowhere compares to that generated by similarly priced communities.
"That's unfair to the other people who pay taxes," said Don Smith, a resident of Fremont Township, where the 685-acre development near Peterson Road and Route 60 is located.
"It's just unfair and inequitable, and a great disadvantage to younger people who are paying their own way," he said.
Each of the 275 homes in Saddlebrook Farms will generate, roughly, an average $727 in taxes this year.
That includes property taxes on the land and upgrades such as porches and decks and a mobile-home user fee that's paid to the Lake County Clerk's office.
By comparison, a senior citizen who owned a $150,000 home that wasn't mobile in the same taxing district would pay about $3,523 in taxes this year.
The property taxes that will be collected from the subdivision this year will be around $120,000 to $150,000, Fremont Township Assessor Ed Sullivan Jr. said.
But if the property wasn't developed with mobile housing, the 275 homes in the subdivision would generate about $968,825 in property taxes.
That's assuming each of the homes had a market value of $150,000 and qualified for both a homeowners and senior citizen tax exemption.
Smith, himself a senior citizen and Mundelein High School board member, wants legislation to eliminate the state tax loophole that benefits communities like Saddlebrook Farms.
The development features about 275 homes, although the property could house more than 2,000.
"It's a sweetheart deal," said Thomas M.P. Hannigan, who, like Smith, sits on the Mundelein High School board, which is investigating whether the Saddlebrook development still owes the district builder fees.
"You don't expect a lot of tax revenue from a trailer park, but these trailers are selling for over $200,000," Hannigan said. …