More Evidence Growth Hasn’t Paid for Itself

Some tax hike watcher I am.

I missed Lake in the Hills’ raising its sales tax on July 1st by another quarter of one percent.

Now northern Randall Road is a seamless 7.75%.

Besides Mayor Aaron Shepley’s 75% city sales tax hike, following the example of Algonquin, now Lake in the Hills joins the parade.

So, the quality of the stores is the only differentiation.

It’s sort of like when the cost of airline tickets was regulated by the FAA. The only thing airlines could compete on was the quality of its food.

Of course, in this Randall Road competition, Algonquin wins hands down, even with businesses closing right and left (going toward Elgin). The latest was the Ethan Allen Furniture Store at County Line Road (on the left).

Monday, I wrote of McHenry’s raising its city sales tax 50% for a total shopping burden of 7.5%. While there was no reason for people to attend the meeting because no public comment was allowed, the city fathers and mothers must have been really nervous because not only the police chief, but two officers were present. The two officers were treating folks the same way we were when we went into the Statue of Liberty last month: everything out of your pockets, bags searched, body wanded.

So what do the sales tax hikes show.

Just a bad economy?

Poor management on the part of city councils and village boards?

I don’t think that explains the big picture.

Lake in the Hills from Randall Road where it intersects with Polaris Drive.

I think it is as much a function of unbridled population growth as anything else.

More people were wanted in order to bring more stores, which would bring sales taxes.

That has obviously happened, but sales tax receipts have not kept up with the demand for services from the people living beneath the new rooftops, plus the new businesses, both of which require governmental services.

You might think Algonquin could afford a lower sales tax rate with all of the sales tax revenue from all of the retail businesses along Randall Road. Same goes for Crystal Lake and Rte. 14.

Just the opposite.

Algonquin and Crystal Lake gave their shoppers the highest sales tax rates around these parts.

On July 1st, Lake in the Hills joined the Randall Road crowd by increasing its sales tax rate to 7.75%. They joined Algonquin and Crystal Lake at this lofty rate.

The part of Algonquin Commons that contains Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Algonquin led the way, assuming, I guess, that its new stores would draw shoppers even if its tax rate was the highest on Randall Road.

Six of seven ward representatives watched a power point presentation in a darkened council chamber. Every other member pictured voted for the 50% sales tax hike starting with the Alderwoman on the left.

McHenry took a giant step in the same direction Monday, hiking its sales tax to 7.5%.

It’s rather obvious that “growth” does not pay for itself, not when you have elected officials and public employee unions involved.

Today’s Northwest Herald editorial “Stop Asking Taxpayers” in the Northwest Herald got their facts a bit off. It stated:

“Only Algonquin and Crystal Lake are higher, at 7.75 cents on the dollar.”

Interesting that the paper did not run a story that July 1st when Crystal Lake’s city sales tax rate went up 75%.

The current 7.75% rate in Lake in the Hills didn’t make the editorial.

Sales tax comparison shown McHenry council members Monday night before they voted to hike the city sales tax 50%. It is still lower than Algonquin's, Crystal Lake's and Lake in the Hills', which all have hiked their city sales tax rate 75%. Click to enlarge.

But, it didn’t make the Monday night presentation in McHenry either.

Guess McHenry’s finance guy did his research before July 1st.  Maybe the Northwest Herald did, too.

If anyone on its editorial staff shopped in Lake in the Hills he or she might have noticed the sales tax increase.

The rate in Lake in the Hills quietly increased July 1st without the Northwest Herald raising an apparent objection. But then Ed Plaza, village president, is a Woodstock lawyer and a former Democrat.

It went into effect on July 1st, 2010.

My objection to Crystal Lake’s raising its sales tax to 7.75% was in part because I thought other let’s-grab-more-money elected officials would follow suit.

Perhaps related to the LITH hike in sales tax to 7.75% on June 1st, was the June approval of the construction of a cricket court at Sunset Park.

Apparently a cricket court was an absolute necessity for Lake in the Hills.

Meanwhile, the LITH web site shows a part time Office Assistant job available at

“This position assists the Administration and Executive Departments with a wide variety of clerical tasks, answering and responding to phone calls, typing, filing, assisting the Village Clerk, and special projects as assigned.”

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