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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Opposing the sales tax hike were
- Andrew Glab – Ward 2
- Geoffrey Blake – Ward 4
- Richard Peterson – Ward 6
Mayor Sue Low did not vote.
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:
“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”