Campaign Against 377 Board Referendum

708 Board Building, the payment for which has diverted money that could have gone to services.

708 Board Building, the payment for which has diverted money that could have gone to services.

As I have reported in November, there’s an attempt to create a tax district similar to the 708 Board to serve the developmentally disabled population of McHenry County.

The problem, as I have pointed out, is that the 708 Board was created for that purpose.

How do I know?

I was County Treasurer when that referendum was passed in the late 1960’s.

It was supported by an organization that I remember being called the McHenry County Citizens for the Retarded.

When the taxes came in I took the first checks to both Pioneer Center, which was located in the old Terra Cotta School House off Route 31 and to Family Services, which was located on the street running from now-McHenry East High School to the Fox River (where the four-story city-subsidized four-story building is located).

As I remember, both those serving those then called “retarded” and those serving those with mental problems both got $25,000 checks.

The current maximum tax rate is 15 cents per $100 of Assessed Valuation.  Because of the Tax Cap that rate has been forced back to 14.5 cents per $100.  The taxes extracted last year approach $12.7 million.

The 708 Board started out giving 50% to the Developmentally Disabled side and 50% to the mental health side.

Over the years, Pioneer Center and others serving the same population have felt shortchanged.

377 adThat is the reason for the current referendum to create a special tax district to provide about two-thirds of money as the 708 Board collects. (If I am incorrect, please advise in the comment section.)

Just because the 708 Board is not living up to expectations of its responsibility of part of the population it is supposed to serve is not sufficient reason in my opinion, to vote to impose another layer of government and taxes on McHenry County.

I see Fox River Grove Republican Precinct Committeeman Andrew Gasser agrees.

His first article, “No on the 366 Board,” is unambiguous from the title on.

His second one, “The ‘Language’ of 377,” talks about who will be hurt most by permanent higher taxes.

This proposals proponents are running a virtual stealth campaign.

I found something on the internet, which I posted here.

Below is what you will see at the bottom of the ballot:

The 377 Board Ballot calling for a substantial tax increase.

The 377 Board Ballot calling for a substantial tax increase.   It looks like 10 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

The strategy of a stealth campaign, often run by school boards, is to let your supporters know and ignore the undecideds and those likely to be opposed.

Good strategy.

Elections are about differential turnout, of course.  In other words, which side can get more of its supporters to the polls.

I did find the following card supporting the tax hike:

This side of the campaign piece supporting creating of the 377 Board and its tax increase concentrates on the need.

This side of the campaign piece supporting creating of the 377 Board and its tax increase concentrates on the need.

The argument made on this side, which purports to tell the cost, but whose estimate does not match the ballot question, is that McHenry County residents should raise their taxes because State government isn't fulfilling it promises.

The argument made on this side estimates the cost at $33.33 cents per $100,000 of home value.  Virtually no one’s home is worth on ly $100,000, of course.  If one’s home were worth $300,000, it would cost $100 a year, for example.

The tax would bring in about $9 million., the proponents say.


Campaign Against 377 Board Referendum — 3 Comments

  1. Dear Fellow McHenry County Taxpayer:

    Erin and I are writing you in support of referendum 377 that if passed will create a Developmental Disabilities Board in McHenry County.

    After a lengthy study of this issue three main questions came to mind that might be useful to you in determining your decision whether to join us in voting YES for this referendum on the April 9th ballot.

    1. It’s a Local program that supports developmentally disabled children and adults who reside in McHenry County
    • It’s not just another tax increase that will be spent on other special projects with special interests not tied to our county
    • All funds will be kept here and invested here with a specific focus on helping those who have long term mental health challenges that cannot be reversed
    • The management of this board is local and composed of people from McHenry County, is not in Springfield or Washington, DC.
    • Concerns or improvements to this board are transparent and we have direct access to those managing this program

    2. This program is more efficient and effective than state and/or federal programs
    • For less than $50 per year per average household, this program will generate over $9 million per year that will support over 5,200 developmentally disabled children and/or adults and establish a program to meet the future needs of a growing community and the money stays here in McHenry County!
    • The state of Illinois ranks dead last in investing in people with developmental disabilities and has an average cost per person of more than $100,000 per year. Supporting this referendum in April will help avoid future State Tax increases down the road.
    • When a parent is no longer willing, able or passes away, care for the developmentally disabled child’s falls upon the responsibility of this state and that will mean more State tax deficits and tax increases.
    • Facilities such as Pioneer Center have proven to provide more effective care and costs substantially less than State sponsored programs while providing a loving environment that is tied to our community

    3. Why not raise the money from charitable programs and private donations?
    • Organizations such as Pioneer Center have managed to serve the community primarily from private donations and fees that clients of family pay, but cuts in State funding (over $350,000 per year) and a growing client base have placed demands that simply cannot be met.
    • As our community grows so will the number of developmentally disabled children and adults and with the direction of our State budget crisis there is simply no future in anticipating support from Springfield.
    • For the cost of one Starbucks coffee per month per average household, we can make a difference in our county by providing developmental services to those who simply can’t provide for themselves.
    • We can no longer rely on our State government to solve problems that we ourselves can fix.

    Please visit for more information on this referendum.

    In full disclosure, Erin and I are very active supporters of Pioneer Center.

    Brian & Erin Kelly

  2. I highly doubt the most effective use of taxpayer money is creating another unit of government/board/commission.

    This referendum, although you would never guess it by reading the question on the ballot, creates a 377 board.

    Maybe instead of passing state legislation that increased pensions (TRS, SERS, SURS, GARS, JRS, Police, Fire) some of that money should have been allocated to the developmentally disabled children.
    The government has plenty of money.

    They are just not very good at allocating how they use it.

    So they ask for even more money in ever creative ways.

    Who wouldn’t want to help the developmentally disabled?

    The State of Illinois, that’s who, because instead of helping the developmentally disabled they passed pension hiking legislation after the pension protection clause was added to the Illinois State Constitution.

    Local School Boards, that’s who, because they passed salary hiking collective bargaining agreements, so money that could have gone to helping the developmentally disabled went to hiking teacher and administrator salaries which then hiked pensions which were further hiked by pension hiking legislation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *