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January 2019

With Advocacy Everywhere, Illinois REALTORS® Rally Peoria Voters against New “Parcel Tax” on Property Owners

Attempting to bridge a $1.2 million hole in its budget, the City Council of Peoria, Illinois, thought it would impose a new fee on owners of all residential and commercial property within its jurisdiction. The proposed fee, which was expected to increase over time with no end in sight, was not going to get by the Peoria Association of REALTORS® without a fight: “They’ve poked the wrong bear!” declared one board member. With help from the state association and the REALTOR® Party, the REALTORS® used Advocacy Everywhere and other measures to call voters’ attention to the threat and encourage calls of opposition to the City Council. Overwhelmed by the volume, the Council agreed to a compromise.

Dallas Hancock, CEO of the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® (PAAR,) notes that her Government Affairs Committee is proactive and engaged, meeting with the community’s elected officials and staff on a monthly basis to keep the lines of communication open. “Some Council members even contact us directly, when something comes up that needs our attention. And when they don’t, we can depend on Kristie to be closely monitoring City Hall!” Kristie Engerman, the Local Government Affairs Director and Regional Manager for Member Outreach with the Illinois REALTORS®, explains that in this case, the city was trying to fill a shortfall in the Public Safety Pension fund, a perennial challenge that grows exponentially, and which requires a last-minute band-aid every November. “PAAR’s Government Affairs Committee does a great job developing and maintaining working relationships with City Hall, but at the end of the year when there’s a sense of desperation over balancing the budget, you’re going to need more than that. You need pressure from voters,” she says.

Engerman enumerates the “vast store of REALTOR® resources” that PAAR brought to bear on the effort to oppose the proposed Public Safety Pension Fee, part of a program that the REALTOR® Party helped to put together within a matter of hours in mid-November:  “Emails and texts messages to PAAR members, on Fridays and Mondays of two consecutive weekends; and a consumer component supported by the Illinois REALTORS®’ Advocacy Fund that involved texts, social media, and a postcard mailer. We used all avenues at our disposal.  Let me tell you, Peoria is a relatively small community, and when Council members have thousands of constituents calling and emailing – they notice.”

In the end, the Public Safety Pension Fee passed, but in a reduced version of the original proposal: the fee itself was lowered, and a sunset clause limited the duration to three years. Says Hancock, “We’re glad for the compromise. More than that, we really raised awareness among voters in the community. Our REALTORS® saw the advocacy system at work; the public saw REALTORS® in action; and many voters were jolted out of apathy and into action. But most importantly, the elected leadership experienced the impact of the REALTOR® Party collaborative efforts. That’s a big win.”

She continues, “We are just so fortunate to have Kristie handling our Government Affairs – along with those of the rest of the state – with such expertise. Efforts like this could never happen the way they do without her guidance.”  As for Engerman, she notes that it was widely considered time for some push-back on Peoria city budget matters, and it’s been good to put a spotlight on the long-term issues. “For the viability of the entire region, we want Peoria to remain competitive in the housing market, which it can only do if taxes and fees on property ownership are kept at a reasonable level. The REALTORS® are the only organization out there looking to protect private property rights, and at the same time, thanks to PAAR’s strong Government Affairs Committee, we can talk to the City Council about formulating a long-range business plan to resolve challenging budget needs.”

To learn more about how REALTORS® in Peoria used a REALTOR® Party program to protect property owners from unfair tax burdens, contact Kristie Engerman, Local Government Affairs Director and Regional Manager for Member Outreach for Illinois REALTORS®, at 309-253-864; or Dallas Hancock, CEO of the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS®, at 309-688-8591.

 

 

 

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REALTOR® Advocacy Continues Despite Government Shutdown

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

As of Monday, January 7, the partial shutdown of the federal government had become the third-longest in U.S. history, with White House and Congressional leadership still unable to reach an agreement on funding for southern border defense.

Currently, more than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including some at the IRS and Department of Homeland Security, while 380,000 workers have been furloughed from the Departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development, among others. In all, nine of 15 federal departments are closed, while dozens of agencies also remain shuttered. Fortunately, however, roughly 75 percent of government services are unaffected by the shutdown.

Still, concerns would deepen should the shutdown persist for additional weeks, and many Americans and federal government workers are certainly feeling the effects of the stalemate one way or another.

The situation becomes particularly bleak for all federal government employees who will not receive a paycheck until the government reopens. Obviously, any American who faces a temporary pause in income because of the shutdown could struggle to on time make payments in the coming days and weeks. That includes mortgage payments and bills for things like rent, car loans and student debt. Any delay in these payments could harm an individual’s finances and their credit, which would obviously impact their ability to buy a home or make other large purchases in the future.

During the shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not issuing new rural loans or closing on direct loans. HUD, however, will still close on single-family loans, but furloughs at the agency could make the process longer and more difficult.

For ordinary Americans, this shutdown creates economic uncertainty and feelings of long-term instability. Buying a home is a high-stress transaction, and adding another complexity to the process with possible delays in the transaction only further hurts the economy and U.S. consumers. It could even begin to shave off GDP growth in a measurable way.

We will continue to work with congressional leaders and White House officials to minimize impacts of the shutdown on the housing market, and to ensure our 1.3 million members across the country are equipped with every resource necessary to continue operating as usual during the shutdown. We have also prepared a page which outlines all the ways you and your business could be impacted, along with a comprehensive document explaining the specific impact on each governmental entity that impacts housing.

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