MCC Levy Talk, College Sticks to Assumption that New Growth Will Be 3.29%

Bob Tenuta

Bob Tenuta

McHenry County College’s Chief Financial Officer Bob Tenuta presented some spreadsheets showing what would happen if the Trustees decided not to ask for the additional $224,000 in property taxes that the Tax Cap law allows.

That’s the amount that a 1.7% increase in real estate taxes would take out of our pockets.

How big is MCC’s budget?

$54.2 million.

I would respectfully suggest that a group of citizens could come up with that much if relevant administrators would answer questions about suggested cuts.

Most of the numbers included the totally unrealistic assumption that the college could collect an additional 4.99% 9 just under the 5% increase level that would require a big black-bordered box in the local newspaper, plus a public hearing) in property taxes next year, if the Board would only ask for it.

Let me show you why this assumption is not a possibility.

If you subtract 1.7 percentage points from 4.99 percentage points, you get 3.29 percentage points.

For MCC to college a property tax increase of 4.99%, new construction would have to be 3.29%.

That level of growth has not happened in over half a decade.

Anyone think that is likely after looking at the following percentage increases in new growth for the last ten years that Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz pulled off the County Clerk’s web site?

I’ll tell you that Roger Adkins, my immediate supervisor at the United States Bureau of the Budget would have never allowed me to get away with using such an assumption.

Chris Jenner

Chris Jenner

Year       New

2012       0.5%
2011       0.4
2010       0.5
2009       1.1
2008       1.6
2007       2.3
2006       3.2
2005       3.8
2004       4.2
2003       4.3

I asked why he was using an estimate of 4.99% increase in potential real estate tax revenues.

When I asked that and another question, Tenuta told me he had put in a fourteen-hour day and referred me to college Public Information Officer Christina Haggerty. He said she would refer the question to him and he would answer it.

Fair enough.

So, before I go to bed I shall.


MCC Levy Talk, College Sticks to Assumption that New Growth Will Be 3.29% — 5 Comments

  1. Cal, it took Tenuta as long to tell you why he couldn’t answer your question as it would have taken to answer it!

    Referring you to the Public Information officer is just another example of the current administration’s commitment to opacity rather than transparency.

    They are symptomatic of the underlying problem: that the administration’s goal is to get as much tax money as possible and to make their government as big as possible, and they don’t want to have to offer justification.

    Even if growth were 10% per year, that in and of itself does NOT justify larger taxes!

    Tenuta’s rationale is irrationale (if you’ll pardon the pun).

    Budget increases are NEVER justified by saying “we should get as much of the taxpayers’ money as we can while the gettin’ is good.”

    Budgets are justified by proving

    (1) every program that exists should exist and should exist at the current size (i.e., the benefit to the community exceeds the cost) and

    (2) every program is run as efficiently as possible.

    If THAT is proven AND there is a shortfall, THEN and ONLY then can the case be made for a tax increase.

    Cal, keep publishing that chart of how much in excess taxes MCC has taken every year.

  2. Ditto on what Steve said.

    The unfortunate order of the agenda left the real issues to end of the meeting.

    My guess there was attempt to starve the elephant in the room so there would be less discussion, less public attendance, and lower ability to think straight.

    Based on the 21 page Financial Overview presented in lightning speed, I pick out three key issues:

    1. There are plans to take on an EXTRA 8 million expense for employee benefits (I mean pension) next year. Thank you State of Illinois. Only showing Other Revenue Sources of +6 million. The math net not looking good

    2. There are plans to increase salaries 6.4% next year. Don’t know who to thank for this. Note: Ops and Maintenance salary being reduced 51%! No one on the board asked why. maybe they already know and are good with it. Sure would be nice to get info before meeting as a citizen to ask at public open comments.

    3. There are plans to increase Capital Outlay by 4.5 million. The example given was for HVAC replacement. Sure would be nice to see examples for improving enrollment, education, and graduation.

    To the Trustees.

    Please continue to work on accountability measurement.

    The president report showed more respondents than last year on her Graduate Comparison report and it showed huge decreases in reaching goals and other measurements.

    Shouldn’t the total enrollment be on this report to compare?

    Isn’t the administration concerned about this?

  3. Cal, I went to a meeting where the student trustee and the CFO asked the students if they’d like to have tuition increases that were small over a period of time or sharp increases less often.

    I asked the question, “why does tuition need to go up?”

    I also asked them what they were trying to cut, because I read all about their spending projects, but never hear where they are cutting.

    They gave me really waffly answers.

    The whole event was a dog and pony spectacle.

    Paula, the trustee, got some students from the cafeteria, but in the back of the room there were administrators.

    If Paula or the CFO couldn’t answer my question they’d just bounce it around.

    The room was packed against me, and I was the only person asking questions.

    They were framing the question as “well wouldn’t you like to have an indoor track” (when I brought up the fitness facility) to which most the students nodded their heads and I said, “It’d be nice to save 42 million dollars too.”

    When I asked them about tuition doubling in 13 years they asked me if the services are better than they were in 1997 (a straw man argument, since the year I mentioned was 2000 not 1997).

    I said, “Yeah, they are probably better but I’ve never done a cost benefit analysis to see if we’re getting our money’s worth.”

    They looked shocked to hear that term.

    The CFO told me that they can’t do much in terms of cutting because 2/3 of college costs are labor costs and those are not negotiable because “they are not negotiable”.

    They didn’t’ expect a fight from anybody.

    They picked the wrong person to sit in.

    At the end of the meeting they switched off the lights and made a comment about saving electricity, which seemed more snarky than sincere to me.

    Afterwards, I’d see some of the people from the meeting in the halls and they acted weird when they would see me.

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