What a convoluted headline.
As I was writing about my verification that the McHenry County Conservation District tax hike bill had been signed by Governor Pat Quinn, I predicted that there would be a rebuttal to MCCD Board President David Brandt’s critique of McHenry County Board member Andrew Gasser’s criticism during his comments at the last County Board meeting.
Little did I know that it had already been posted as a comment under this article.
What Steve Willson wrote is worth reading, so I present it below:
It’s very easy to get drawn off target, and that is exactly what Brandt is attempting here, so let’s look at the big picture.
1) Andrew Gasser had two points:
(a) MCCD spends much more than the average conservation district, and
(b) Can MCCD justify these higher expenditures?
2) Brandt never disputed Andrew Gasser’s main contention or answered Gasser’s request.
(a) None of Brandt’s responses speak to Andrew Gasser’s point that MCCD spends much more than the average.
(b) None of Brandt’s Reponses explain the benefit to the taxpayers of MCCD spending much more than the average.
3) IF BRANDT HAD STRONG ANSWERS TO GASSER’S POINTS, BRANDT WOULD HAVE GIVEN THOSE ANSWERS.
4) Conclusion: Gasser is right,
(a) MCCD spends much more than the average, and
(b) MCCD cannot prove there is any benefit to the taxpayers in this extra expenditure.
Those are the key points.
It’s worth looking at Brandt’s actual response in detail for only one purpose: to see exactly how he is trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.
Brandt’s letter says:
(a) some of Gasser’s numbers are wrong
(b) dollars per capita is the wrong measure
(c) dollars per acre is the right measure
(d) MCCD is a small part of the tax bill
(e) MCCD saved money on a refunding
Let’s look at each point.
(a) Some of Gasser’s numbers were wrong.
Brandt is correct. Some of the numbers were wrong. When corrected, that did not that change the overall conclusion that MCCD spends twice the average and four times as much as some conservation districts.
By the way, one of the numbers that was wrong was MCCD’s. The real number was actually bigger than Gasser indicated.
Did Brandt note that in his answer?
Which means he did exactly what he accuses Gasser of.
(b) Dollars per capita is the wrong measure.
Note that Brandt offers no proof of this point. He simply asserts the point.
And he’s wrong.
Dollars per capita is the right measure.
First, it is the measure voters care about (“How much is this costing me”).
Second, it is the measure used by all municipal finance professionals, including those at the national rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
It is not the only measure, but it is one of the key measures.
(c) Dollars per acre is the right measure.
Unless Brandt can prove that owning four times as much land as the average has tangible benefits, dollars per acre is irrelevant.
He is like a realtor trying to sell us a house far bigger than we need and then arguing that the heating bill, while very high, is actually low on a per-square-foot basis.
(d) MCCD is a small part of the tax bill.
So being small justifies unnecessary expenditures?
(e) MCCD saved money on a refunding.
How can this justify spending much more than the average?
What Mr. Brandt has actually proven is that he is a zealous advocate for the conservation district, and not actually a trustee representing the taxpayers.
The County needs to stop appointing zealous advocates for the cause to their boards and committees and start appointing people who are a little skeptical.