The Finance Committee has laid a dilemma in McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller’s lap.
The ordinance laying out the tax levy for county government was to be on the agenda of the next County Board meeting.
It has to be on public view for thirty days before passage Fiscal Year 2016 starts on December 1st.
The problem is that the Finance Committee defeated the motion to approve the levy resolution on a 3-3 vote.
That vote followed an attempt to amend the levy downward by District 4 member Chuck Wheeler.
But the topic of reducing taxes for Valley Hi came from primary opponent Mike Walkup.
Wheeler,who was appointed to replace Ken Koehler to the Valley Hi Nursing Home’s Operating Board last meeting, took aim at the nursing home part of the levy.
It was for $3 million, the same amount as last year.
The problem is that there is over $40 million in the bank
Add the background that Valley Hi pretty much breaks even: $10-11 million spent, $10-11 million in resident income.
Wheeler moved to reduce the Valley Hi levy by $750,000.
The form of his motion wouldn’t save taxpayers any money.
It took an hour to an hour and a half for committee members to figure out that such savings could only be accomplished if the bottom line of the levy ordinance–about $79 million–were reduced by $750,000, too.
So, what’s been happening as the Valley Hi levy has been cut from $6 million to $5 million to $4 million to $3 million?
Administrator Peter Austin and Associate Administrator for Finance Ralph Sarbaugh explained that as the Valley Hi levy was decreased, the amount of the decrease was allocated to other levies, that is, other parts of the overall levy were increased by the same amount as the nursing home’s was cut.
After figuring out how the motion should be worded, Wheeler made it again.
The meeting started at 8:15.
I left at 12:55 for a luncheon appointment and there still was no vote.
On the way out, however, I heard Mary McCann say, “And, nobody will notice the difference.”
I learned later that Committee Vice Chairman Jim Heisler left the room before the vote was taken.
That left six members–Chairman Mike Skala and members Yvonne Barnes, Mary McCann, Nick Provenzano, Larry Smith and Chuck Wheeler.
The vote on Wheeler’s tax cut motion was 3-4:
- Barnes, Provenzano and Wheeler in favor
- Skala, Heisler (a member of the Valley Hi Operating Committee), McCann and Smith opposed
The amendment failed.
Then, Heisler left the meeting.
The next vote was on the levy with Valley Hi at $3 million.
The vote was again 3-3:
- Skala, McCann and Smith in favor
- Barnes, Provenzano and Wheeler
- Heisler absent
Wheeler and Smith are not up for election next year.
Barnes, McCann, Provenzano and Skala face the voters in March and, if they win the Republican Primary Election, all the voters in November.
So, here’s Gottemoller’s dilemma:
The new Rules allow the Chairman to place something on the County Board’s Agenda that has not been approved by a committee.
So, will Gottemoller do that or will he encourage Committee Chairman Skala to hold another meeting before Tuesday in an attempt to gain majority approval?
Adding to the political considerations of a Republican County Board holding taxes constant for the fourth year in a row (capturing only new construction), is that the issue was brought up at the Finance Committee by his primary opponent for the GOP nomination for County Board Chairman–Mike Walkup.
Although he was not present for the public comment part of the meeting at 8:15, after his committee meeting he came and was allowed to comment before the levy was voted upon.
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A detailed report of the meeting will be described this weekend.
More detailed information on the meeting: