At Thursday morning’s Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce governmental forum, there was a question and answer session.
There was a well-researched question asking about what tax districts were doing about duplication of services:
“From 2009 through 2012, Countywide Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) dropped from $10.4 Billion to $7.9 Billion, a 24% decrease.
“Meanwhile, levies increased from $752 Million to $797 Million, or 6%.
“This caused the aggregate tax rate to climb from 7.2% to 10.08%, almost 40%.
“As values begin to return, is there any coordinated effort to hold or reduce levies among taxing bodies so the rate drops faster and people start to feel some relief?”
City Assistant Director of Community Economic Development JamesRichter explained that the increase in taxes for the City of Crystal Lake averaged $10.77 for homeowners, a 1.3% increase.
That amounted to 90 cents per month, he said, pointing out that most city revenues came from sales taxes.
The Park District’s Jason Herbster pointed out that District 155 and the Park District no longer bill each other for use of the other’s facilities, e.g., gyms and ball fields, and the city is not charging fees anymore.
(No mention was made by either of the separate recreation activities of the city since the city opened Three Oaks Recreational Area.)
Referring to the Illinois General Assembly and Governor, McHenry County Board Chairman Gottemoller said,
“They’re going to make a flat levy for all of us whether we like it or not.”
Crystal Lake High School Board President Ted Wagner told of the abatement of Prairie Ridge building bonds for the last two years. He mention “50%.”
He also told of cutting $495,000 in supplies, that business office personnel were working together.
Wagner reminded those attending that “85% of your budget is wages and benefits.
“The teachers union has worked together with the administration,” he added before saying District 155 was “trying to keep tax growth at a minimum.”
The Library’s Kathryn Martens revealed a “local leaders group” which meets periodically.
With regard to the Library’s part of the tax bill, she said the levy was cut back in 2009.
“Each year we’re trying to get back to where we were in 2010.”
She described her staff as “fiscally conservative.”
At this point someone revealed an upcoming joint meeting of the five school boards within the high school district’s boundaries.
Gottemoller replied to a question that pointed out that McHenry County has as many County Board members are McHenry
The person who posed the question thought there would be increased accountability and reduced costs.
[As far as accountability goes, single member districts would surely make that possible. With regard to costs, however, what would make anyone think that if the number of County Board members were cut form 24 to 12, for instance, that those remaining would not seek to double the current $21,000 salary?]
Gottemoller went the questioner one better.
He told of going to a national association of county board convention and discovering that Los Angeles has only five county commissioners.
“There’s really no reason we can’t be smaller,” he concluded after informing the audience that the number of county board members can be changed by referendum or by the board itself after each U.S. Census.
District 47 was asked by it had more money in the bank that its annual budget.
“Like most school districts, we have reserves–ninety days cash in the bank,” grade school Board President Jeff Mason said.
“Those reserves act as a buffer in times of crisis,” District 155 Superintendent JohnnieThomas added.
Chamber President Mary Margaret Maule moderated the meeting.
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Tomorrow the biggest misconceptions and things governmental officials wish people knew.
The first article on the meeting can be found here.