This note was by Steve Willson sent to the McHenry County Republican Party email address a month and a half ago:
I received a letter today from Jim Thompson thanking me for my letter to the editor concerning the Crystal Lake library expansion, and inviting me to visit the local party headquarters. I may stop by sometime, but for now I’d like to lay a couple more ideas on you.
I have 30+ years of experience as a financial analyst, primarily in the municipal bond business.
This means I know how to tear apart the budget or a capital proposal for a school district or a city.
I would be pleased to assist the local GOP in this capacity and show others there how to do the same. (It’s not really that complicated.)
With this kind of research, the GOP can distinguish itself at the local level,
- showing concretely how it is serving the taxpayers, and
- giving teams of office seekers powerful information on important issues.
Let’s consider two examples,
- the [Crystal Lake] library and
In two weeks (from early May), the Northwest Herald will print a second letter that I wrote which shows the results of a little survey I conducted of library users.It took, quite literally, less than two hours.
But it shows conclusively that the “crowding” issue is nonexistent.
Specifically, 74% of patrons NEVER have a problem finding a parking space, and on average, patrons have problems finding a parking space only 1.5% of the time.
Further, 80% of patrons surveyed NEVER feel “crowded” at the library, and, on average, patrons feel “crowded” 4.3% of the time (mainly Moms during story hour).
It gets worse.
Last year the library budget was $4.4 million and they circulated 1.1 million items, about half of which were Hollywood movies.
In other words, the library spends $4.00 of taxpayer money to circulate a movie that Redbox circulates — at a profit — for $1.00! Look at it another way.
The library spends more than $1.5 million per year circulating movies, just movies.
An annual subscription to Netflix costs less than $100.
With 14,500 families in Crystal Lake, if the library got out of the movie business and bought every single family in Crystal Lake a subscription to Netflix, the would STILL be money ahead!
Am I suggesting the library get totally out of the business of lending movies?
No. (Although, frankly I am old fashioned enough to think that governments should only supply necessary services that the free market can’t provide, like roads and police. Why libraries have become taxpayer subsidized competitors for Blockbuster is beyond me.)
I would suggest, though, that these kind of numbers imply STRONGLY that no one is minding the store, that no one looks carefully at the budget and asks if the library is an efficient steward of the public’s money.
But MCC makes the library look like a bunch of pikers.
$280 million! For what?
3% annual growth?
Let’s be clear: Wight & Co. DID NOT come up with the 3% per year growth projection.
They were given that number by the college and told to build a plan based on that projection.
How likely is 3% growth.
Well, every single school district in McHenry County is now experiencing reductions in enrollment.
Even District 158 (Huntley) has seen reductions at the kindergarten level.
They expect their high school enrollment to increase by about 500 more students in the next several years and then begin to decline.
MCC itself saw enrollment decline 4% last fall.
But how can we be sure this will continue?
Because we can see ten years into the future.
That is, we know how many high school seniors there are in McHenry County and how many third graders there are.
Today’s third graders are MCC’s freshmen ten years from now.
And today there are 20% FEWER THIRD GRADERS THAN HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS!
So MCC is going to see their enrollment decline, not increase.
But it’s worse than that. If you put together a very simple Excel spreadsheet and trend out MCC’s projected enrollment at 3% per year, figure out how many new students that means they must capture each year as existing students quit or graduate, and trend out the number of high school seniors, you will see that the “capture” rate of high school seniors increases from 33% today to 50% in 2021, 75% in 2031, 101% in 2041 and 136% in 2051.
In other words, if you believe MCC’s 40 year projection, they will need to get every single high school senior to
- foreswear a four year college,
- foreswear work,
- enroll full-time at MCC, and
- bring along a friend from outside the County!
In short, there simply aren’t enough high school seniors to meet MCC’s projection.
The college wasted $156,000 of taxpayer money on a study based on a growth rate that is ludicrous on the face of it.
Except that no one asks the simple, common sense questions. No one on the board and no one in the public domain: no reporters, no members of the GOP.
But the GOP CAN ask these questions.
The questions really are simple common sense.
I figured all this out in less than two hours from credible online sources (The Interactive Illinois Report Card and MCC’s own site).
I can quickly teach others how to do this, thus leveraging my abilities and providing the local GOP with another issue where they can get out front,
- showing leadership in protecting taxpayers, and
- putting together a team of candidates for the next election based on this type of issue-oriented campaign.
If you’re interested, write back.