McHenry Grade School Board Going for 8.74% Budget Hike, Taxing to the Max

D15 budget notice 12-14

The legal notice of the McHenry Grade School District published in the Northwest Herald.

Since the Property Tax Cap limits non-Home Rule tax districts to a 1.5% inflationary increase for next year’s total tax take, plus new construction, it is difficult to understand why McHenry’s Grade School Board is asking for 8.74%.

The difference between 8.74% and 1.7% is over seven percentage points.

How could anyone living in McHenry think that there is that much new real estate growth?

It reminds me of the McHenry County College Board’s asking for 9% in December of 2011.

That year the maximum that could be had under the Real Estate Tax Cap was also 1.5%.

This practice of over-levying is usually called “balloon” levying.

For tax eaters who pursue so much more tax money than can be reasonably expected it’s more like “wish fulfillment” levying.

Note also that property taxes to be requested for “debt service” is going up 27.56%.

I wonder if those attending the Tuesday 7 PM December 9th hearing will be told why,

The public notice does come at an appropriate time, however.

Now is the time people can pass petitions to run for school boards and other tax district governing bodies.

Petitions for school board may be obtained from the County Clerk’s Office in Woodstock.

There is one other puzzling part of the notice.

While there is no requirement in state law for people to have to sign up ahead of time to praise or criticize the proposed levy, this notice says those wishing to speak should contact School Superintendent Alan Hoffman.

That strikes me as an attempt to discourage people from attending the meeting.


McHenry Grade School Board Going for 8.74% Budget Hike, Taxing to the Max — 19 Comments

  1. Thank you Cal for publishing this!!

    You are probably one of about five people who even look for these postings in a newspaper!

    From 2008 to 2013, property owners in School District 15 LOST 35.66 percent of the value of their properties!

    Between 2008 and 2013, D-15 has increased their property tax collections by 21.57 percent!

    The District reported 43.7 percent LOW INCOME STUDENTS last year! How on earth can the School Board in good conscience approve the proposed levy?

    Based on their ‘Report Card’, the product they produce has been declining in quality:

  2. BTW the D-15 posting in the paper shows a property tax extension of $48,371,265 for last year but the County shows a Property Tax Extension for $47,596,924.

    In 2008 the Property tax extension was $39,151,592.

    I wonder what the median income increase was for voters who live in the same district?

  3. Algonquin Consolidated School District 158 spent $9,579 per pupil in the 2013-2014 school year.

    McHenry spent $11,386.

    How is it McHenry has to spend 19% more than Algonquin and can’t find any place to save money?

    Answer: because they don’t look.

    No school district board member says,

    “Hey, there are districts right around us that spend less than we do. Let’s find out how.”

    Instead they say,

    “Oh, we’ve cut to the bone! There’s nowhere else we can possibly save money! Won’t someone please think of the children!”

  4. Recent board meeting minutes even refer to a drop in enrollment of 80 Students.

    It appears there is a move to replace ALL portable classrooms and go to full day kindergarten – gotta find work for the teachers they no longer need!!!

    When will elected officials comprehend that the County is shrinking because our property taxes are too high??

  5. Huntley is a unit school district.

    McHenry has both a high and a grade school district.

    Figures for which McHenry district are being cited?

  6. I hope each and every reader comes to the meeting to ask why D15 is asking for a balloon levy.

    I plan on being there to ask why we need the balloon levy.

    I didn’t think there was a hole in the budget or a shortfall in revenue – of course, what do I know?

    Last year there were 15-20 taxpayers in attendance and the overwhelming majority expressed displeasure in the balloon levy.

  7. Cal, the numbers I pulled are for McHenry District 15.

    I downloaded them from (Illinois Interactive Report Card) and calculated the per-pupil costs myself because the per-pupil expenditures on the iirc site do not include a couple of funds and therefore understate the total.

    You raise an interesting point though: high school generally cost more per student than elementary students, yet Algonquin, which is a unit district — K through 12 — is less expensive that McHenry 15, which is an elementary district.

    Further reason that McHenry 15 should cost less.

  8. Why McHenry County real estate can only drop in value as rulers relentlessly raise tax levies every year 2007- present despite economic recession:

    To get a conforming mortgage loan, a borrower must prove income to support maximum 28% of income going toward mortgage payments. (That is if they have no other household debt like student loans, car payments, credit card debt, or medical debt which exceeds another debt ratio.)

    The maximum borrowing amount for a conforming loan on a single family dwelling is $417,000.

    The annual household earnings which could qualify for such a conforming mortgage loan varies according to property tax rate as follows:

    1. At National average property tax rate of 1.25% of home value: $103,928
    2. At typical Chicago tax rate 2% of home value: $115,114
    3. At eastern McHenry County tax rates 3% of home value: $129,935
    4. At western McHenry County tax rates 4% of home value: $144,857

    (That is, to purchase the same priced home in western McHenry County a household must earn $144,857 annually instead of $115,114 annual income qualifying for a mortgage on average in all the rest of the country).

    At current 30 year mortgage rates of 4%, monthly payment on a $417,000 mortgage are as follows, based on different property tax rates:

    1. At National average property tax rate of 1.25% of home value: $2425
    2. At typical Chicago tax rate 2% of home value:$2686
    3. At eastern McHenry County tax rates 3% of home value: $3033
    4. At western McHenry County tax rates 4% of home value: $3381

    ( that is, the average American monthly mortgage payment is $956 less every month than the same priced western McHenry County home payment).

    If educators truly care about the future of children they must consider the effect on children’s’ future chances of higher education.

    Here in McHenry County, houshold budgets are drained for the personal benefit of primary educators’ administrators rather than being conserved to pay for higher education of children.

  9. Cal-

    To avoid confusion, your post mentions the Monday, December 9 meeting.

    December 9 is Tuesday.

  10. Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB)
    Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA)
    Community Consolidated School District Number 15
    CUSIP: 580781
    McHenry and Lake Counties, Illinois

    $05,890,000 General Obligation Refunding School Bonds, Series 2010A

    $04,170,000 Taxable General Obligation Refunding School Bonds, Series 2010B

    $10,060,000 Total

    Dated: September 1, 2010

    Direct General Obligation Bonded Debt (Principal and Interest)

    Total Debt Service on Outstanding Bonds

    Levy Year
    2010 – $0,624,441
    2011 – $1,105,987
    2012 – $1,692,062
    2013 – $2,302,062
    2014 – $2,937,062
    2015 – $3,592,062
    2016 – $4,277,062
    2017 – $4,990,937
    2018 – $5,721,812

    Debt Certificates (Principal Only)
    Total Outstanding Debt Certificates
    Calendar YeaR
    2010 – $00,270,000
    2011 – $11,545,000
    2012 – $00,295,000
    2013 – $00,305,000
    2014 – $00,320,000
    2015 – $00,335,000
    2016 – $00,350,000
    2017 – $00,370,000
    2018 – $00,385,000
    2019 – $00,405,000
    2020 – $00,425,000

  11. Here is the Superintendent Pay for McHenry Elementary District 15.

    2015—Roy A Hoffman———??????—–31
    2014—Roy A Hoffman———??????—–30
    2013—Roy A Hoffman———??????—–29
    2012—Roy A Hoffman———$247,572—28
    2011—Roy A Hoffman———$186,046—27
    2010—Roy A Hoffman———$178,890—26
    2009—Roy A Hoffman———$172,010—25
    2008—Roy A Hoffman———$165,394—24
    2007—Roy A Hoffman———$153,856—23
    2006—Roy A Hoffman———$147,939—22
    2005—Roy A Hoffman———$142,308—21
    2004—David William Dodds—$160,947—36
    2003—David William Dodds—$158,404—35
    2002—David William Dodds—$152,652—34
    2001—David William Dodds—$146,859—33
    2000—David William Dodds—$140,204—32
    1999—David William Dodds—$113,764—31
    Source: and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Teacher Service Record (TSR).

    Looking at the state mandated report for teacher and administrator salaries and benefits, which District has posted on its website.

    It’s posted in the Human Resources section. > Departments > Human Resources > Human Resource Files > PL Act 096 -0434 and PL Act 097-0256.

    EIS Administrator and Teacher Salary and Benefits Report – School Year 2014
    Report ran 9/24/2014 8:31 am
    McHenry CCSD 15
    RCDTS (Region – County – District – Type – School) Code 440630150040000
    (That’s the code used by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to identify this school district).
    Roy Alan Hoffman
    District Superintendent
    Base Salary: $201,304.59
    Vacation Days: 20
    Sick Days: 25
    Annuities: $47,477
    Other Benefits: $7,465

    A few comments about the Superintendents compensation listed above.

    Is School Year 2014 the current school year?

    If so, School Year 2014 would be Fiscal Year 2015?

    20 vacation days and 25 sick days is ridiculous.
    How about 20 personal days and he can use them for vacation or sick.

    Maybe there is something in the school code or pension code as to how such days would have to be identified.

    But Superintendents and others in the school system often exchange sick days for years of service credit so they can retire earlier.

    And Superintendents and others often cash out sick days upon retirement.

    The same for unused vacation days?

    So sick days, and maybe vacation days (if they can be exchanged for years of service credit or rolled over from year to year and cashed out at retirement), is just another form of compensation that is largely hidden from the taxpayer.

    There is no possible way teachers get 25 sick days in their collective bargaining agreement.

    Typically it’s 10 – 15.

    So why should the Superintendent receive more sick days than the teachers?

    Is it likely the Superintendent would be sick for more days than teachers?

    The Superintendent would probably say, in other comparable school districts in Illinois, Superintendents receive similar sick day benefits, so to remain competitive, District 15 should do the same.

    Well first of all, did the Board check that out on their own?

    Secondly, just because other districts are overly generous doesn’t mean McHenry taxpayers have to be overly generous.

    Third, if you would look at other states, Illinois is amongst the most generous for teacher and administrator compensation.

    So districts in other states should also be looked at.

    For example, Superintendent Hoffman himself came from another state.

    How about looking at comparing Superintendent compensation to the state from which he came?

    The $47K annuity is a complete waste of taxpayer money.

    He will already receive a Cadillac pension and his compensation allows him to purchase his own annuity and teachers do not receive an annuity funded by the district to our knowledge.

    So there are just a few examples of costs that could be contained without being overly punitive to Superintendent compensation.

  12. Present value of a quarter million dollar a year guaranteed defined benefit plan with COLA and health bennies (guaranteed by law and backed by Illinois homeowner real estate) is above $6 million dollars according to several common online benefit calculators.

    So, Net Worth of these school administrators is at least $6 million dollars. Doesn’t that make THEM the 1%?

    Where’s “Occupy Wall Street” when we need them??

  13. Top Pensions for for McHenry Elementary District 15 per the Open The Books Snapshot Transparency Report.
    Year—Name—————Annual Annuity—Retirement Date—Total Earnings—Total Contributions
    2014—William D Dodds———$160,173———07/01/2004——-$2,421,122——-$199,117
    2014—Ronald M Jania———-$133,785———07/01/2006——-$1,953,638——-$174,557
    2014—Allan T Smigiel———$115,415———10/24/2012——-$2,328,117——-$183,378
    2014—Oscar L Sola————$111,299———07/01/2005——-$1,774,935——-$163,452
    2014—James W Lashelle——–$108,759———06/22/2006——-$1,745,152——-$170,037
    2014—William Landis———-$105,745———07/01/1993——-$1,122,013——-$108,411
    2014—Richard F Farmer——–$096,019———06/05/1987——-$0,741,231——-$061,127
    2014—Dwight G Hibicke——–$095,782———07/01/2003——-$1,268,024——-$117,726
    2014—Susan J DeRoche———$094,493———06/27/2003——-$1,367,542——-$124,585
    2014—Sandra J Heffelfinger—$082,820———06/07/2008——-$1,376,168——-$126,948

    These are the figures for McHenry Elementary school district teachers and administrators.

    The pensions for McHenry High School district teachers and administrators are higher.

    In any given community, if there are separate elementary and high school districts, as is the case in McHenry, high school teachers are paid more.

    If there is an exception, it would be just that, an exception.

    That’s why it almost never makes sense to consolidated school districts.

    Because there is a state law which says the teacher pay schedule of the higher paying school district must be used in a consolidated school district.

    Take that law away, and it would make sense to consolidate more school districts.

    Speaking of the employer, employee, and state contributions to the TRS pension fund.

    The employer (school district) contributes .58% (that’s less than 1/2 of 1%) to the TRS pension fund.

    School districts have to contribute more than .58% to the TRS pension fund in many circumstances.

    1. If the employee retires under ERO, the school district contributes twice as much as the employee to the TRS pension fund.

    2. If the employee retires with excessive sick leave credit, the school district contributes an additional amount to the TRS pension fund.

    The employee contributes 9.4% to the TRS pension fund; but; in the majority of school districts in Illinois, the board / school districts “picks up” some or all of the employees contribution to the pension fund.

    Of the 9.4%, .4% is to fund Early Retirement Option (ERO).

    The employee .4% contribution to fund ERO was added began July 1, 2005.

    The employee receives a rebate from TRS if they do not participate in ERO).

    Additionally, 1% of the 9.4% funds the Survivor Benefit Contribution.

    Additionally, .5% of the 9.4% funds the annual COLA increase (since July 1, 1998.

    Employees, Employers, and the State also contribute to the state subsidized Teachers’ Health Insurance
    Security (THIS) fund.

    Teachers contribute around .88%.

    Employers contribute around .66%.

    This Cadillac state subsidized healthcare insurance is only available to Illinois public school teachers and administrators, not to the general public.

    Employer (school district) and State contributions to the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois (TRS) pension fund, and to the Teachers’ Health Insurance Security (THIS) fund, should be included in education funding figures, and in the cost to to educate a child figures.

    The State contributions to TRS and THIS are never included in such figures.

    If they are included, show us the math.

    It costs more to educate a child than anyone is revealing.

  14. Top McHenry Elementary District 15 Salaries in 2012 per Open the Books Snapshot Transparency report.
    Roy A Hoffman———–$247,572—District Superintendent
    John C Lehnen———–$179,471—Assistant District Superintendent
    Allan T Smigiel———$155,378—Director
    Roseann R Basford——-$124,813—Elementary Principal
    Debra A Holliday——–$122,648—Junior High/Middle Principal
    Debra L Barton———-$119,614—Special Education Director
    Michael L Adams———$108,769—Junior High/Middle Principal
    James H Roth————$104,032—Librarian/Media Specialist
    Elaine S Riner———-$103,344—Speech/Language Pathologist
    Kathie L Robinson0——$102,891—Assistant Elementary Principal
    Patricia A Knackstedt—$099,701—Elementary Teacher
    Fred A Laudadio———$098,986—Director
    Roxanne G Brassart——$096,667—Elementary Teacher
    Bonnie L McCormack——$095,888—Nurse
    Gloria M Klopf———-$093,733—Special Education Teacher
    Timothy J O’Toole——-$093,166—Librarian/Media Specialist
    Susan P Greben———-$093,089—Elementary Teacher
    Mary K Finch————$093,089—Elementary Teacher
    Michelle L Reinhardt—-$092,873—Elementary Principal
    Maureen Cassidy———$092,865—Director
    Brian H Schweitzer——$092,858—Junior High/Middle Teacher
    Amanda M Cohn———–$092,077—Elementary Principal
    Margaret B Carey——–$091,289—Elementary Principal
    Pamela A Banwart——–$090,812—Special Education Teacher
    Michelle C Klosowicz—-$090,051—Coordinator

    The schools in McHenry CCSD 15 are:
    Chauncey H Duker.
    Edgebrook Elementary.
    Hilltop Elementary.
    Landmark Elementary.
    McHenry Middle Schook.
    Parkland Middle School.
    Riverwood Elementary.
    Valley View Elementary.

  15. I would like to know why the school board members are allowing these outrageous salaries to occur. They APPROVE the superintendents salary and benefit package. They APPROVE the levee every year – except John O’Neill since he is a coward and abstains from voting so he can say he didn’t approve it but he didn’t vote no either.

    The board is the problem and they let this happen. So much for voting two supposed “anti-tax” people onto the board. They are just another yes vote for the school administration.

  16. I would like to know why the school board members are allowing these outrageous salaries to occur. They APPROVE the superintendents salary and benefit package.

    They APPROVE the levee every year – except John O’Neill since he is a coward and abstains from voting so he can say he didn’t approve it but he didn’t vote no either.

    The board is the problem and they let this happen.

    So much for voting two supposed “anti-tax” people onto the board.

    They are just another yes vote for the school administration.

  17. Oh, “McHenry Guy” you should check the facts on who has consistently voted No on the annual tax levy before opening you mouth and inserting you foot.

    BTW, rather than hiding behind a pseudonym, why don’t you try insulting people to their face.

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