Scott Curry Takes on McHenry Finances

I received the following email today which has a series of questions folks in McHenry might find of interest.

It came from Scott Curry, who is running for Alderman in Ward 4.

Curry is a former plant manager for USG (which used to used to be called United States Gypsum).  He is now retired.

Here is his email:

Scott Curry

Scott Curry

Were you aware that the City Council is poised to enact a property tax increase on its residents?

Were you also aware that between local property and local sales taxes, the City has been collecting 45% more tax revenue than they did from these revenue streams prior to 2011? (Sales tax was enacted 1/1/11)

Were you aware that the City’s Unassigned General Fund Balance has been increasing at an average $1.5 MM per year for the past five years?

Were you aware that there has never been a stated budget item that accounts for this increase of the Unassigned GF balance?

Were you aware that the GF balance is now over 50% of spending when the stated goal of the City’s Finance Committee is to keep it between 25-30% (3/11/13 meeting minutes)?  And it continues to increase.

Were you aware that the City continues to justify higher budgets based on prior budgets, not on actual spending? Budgets that are inflated beyond actual expected spending (Thus the ever increasing balance).

Were you aware that the Northwest Herald is so disinterested in the City government that they have not had a reporter at the last two Council meetings nor the Finance Committee meeting where the tax increase resolution has been discussed?

I know you are aware of some of the past rebuff to the voters as concerned the City Treasurer position.

There is a decided lack of transparency in the manner in which this City goes about the budget process.

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.

Six of seven ward representatives watched a power point presentation in a darkened council chamber.

I realize that your focus is mainly on the County however anything you could do to draw attention to the residents of the City of McHenry to get them to the December 15th meeting when this will be voted on would be appreciated.

I have researched the City’s Audit and Budget documents for the past five years to obtain the actual numbers.

I have spoken before two Finance Committee meetings and a Council meeting to try to bring logical sense to the Aldermen but to date appear to have had limited effect.  If few people show up on the 15th, I have no doubt this will go through.

As a disclosure, I will be running for Alderman-Ward 4 in the April election.

Given the nature of the email, I thought McHenry residents might be interested in my story on the night the sales tax was hiked. It is below:

McHenry City Council Votes 4-3 to Hike City Sales Tax 50%

Ward 1 Alderman Victor Santi

Ward 3 Alderman Jeffrey Schaefer

After an extensive debate with no public input because a public hearing had been previously held, three McHenry Aldermen and one Alderwoman voted to raise the city sales tax rate 50%.

The rate will go from the current 1% to 1.5% starting on New Year’s Day.  The higher tax is estimated to provide $975,000 for next year’s budget. The difference between the $1.5 million to be raised and the $975,000 to be used to finance next year’s operations will provide a cushion for future years.

Ward 7 Alderwoman Geri Condon

Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Glab

Increasing the McHenry city sales tax 50% were

  • Victor Santi – Ward 1
  • Jeffrey Schaefer – Ward 3
  • Richard Wimmer – Ward 5 (not pictured)
  • Geri Condon – Ward 7

Wimmer made the motion to approve the tax hike.

Santi seconded it.

Ward 6 Alderman Robert Peterson

Ward 4 Alderman Geoffrey Blake

Opposing the sales tax hike were

  • Andrew Glab – Ward 2
  • Geoffrey Blake – Ward 4
  • Richard Peterson – Ward 6

Mayor Sue Low did not vote.

McHenry Mayor Sue Low

Unlike Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley, who led his council 6-1 (Jeff Thorsen being the only “No” vote), this 50% sales tax hike will be difficult to pin on her.

Spectators were not allowed to enter the council chambers without emptying their pockets, having their bags searched and being wanded by McHenry Police.

The first man to offer public comment said the following:

Checking a citizen for weapons before entering the McHenry City Council Chambers.

Man complaining of police search before entry to the tax hike meeting.

“I thoroughly object to having two police (search those coming to the council meeting).

“We have a police chief here with a handgun.  I’m sure he’s capable of putting down (any problem).

“Surrounding villages do not have it.

“Crystal Lake doesn’t have policemen.

“Neither does Woodstock.

“The biggest thing Elgin has is two posts people have to walk through”


Scott Curry Takes on McHenry Finances — 4 Comments

  1. In the email story above I had ascribed a speculative reason for the recent lack of newspaper coverage.

    I regret that speculation.

    I have been in contact with the Mr. Lyons at the paper and been assured that McHenry is an important community to the paper.

    There had been a recent change in personnel and a few meetings simply were missed.

    You’ll note a story published today dealing the tax levy issue.

  2. I can’t wait to do my little jig when the ratty NWH folds up …. very soon!

    Curry for President!

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