McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks posted the following press release after it was published in the Northwest Herald.
Franks asked for a meeting right after property tax bills would be received.
Problem with that is Franks would have had to have met with school folks last November when their tax levies were about to be passed for the bills which just appeared.
Anyway, here is the press Franks’ press release.
County Board Chairman Jack Franks inviting school districts to talk tax reduction
WOODSTOCK, Ill. – McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has invited leaders from nine area school districts to a discussion on what districts can do to lower their property tax levies.
The meeting comes after voters overwhelmingly approved an advisory referendum asking school districts to follow the County Board’s example and reduce their levies by at least 10 percent. The County Board reduced county government’s levy by 11.2 percent for this tax year, and will continue to search for additional efficiencies to save taxpayers money.
“While every local government has an obligation to the taxpayers to tighten their belts like we did, I believe school boards have even more of one because they account for the biggest percentage, by far, of property tax bills. We’re not here to criticize public education or the fine work that our teachers do. But the voters told us in March that schools need to lower their taxes. And unfortunately, people are also voting with their feet and leaving McHenry County. We have to reverse this trend before we reach a demographic and economic point of no return,” Franks, D-Marengo, said.
County Board members Michele Aavang, R-Woodstock, Christopher Spoerl, R-Cary, and John Jung, R-Woodstock, led the effort last year to put the advisory referendum on the March 20 primary ballot.
Voters approved it by a three-to-one margin.
Franks last week invited the superintendents and the school board presidents from nine of the 16 school districts that have their administrative centers in McHenry County:
- Woodstock Community District 200, Johnsburg District 12,
- McHenry Community High School District 156,
- Marengo Union Elementary School District 165,
- Huntley Community School District 158,
- Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157,
- Cary Community School District 26,
- Community High School District 155 and
- Crystal Lake Elementary District 47.
Other districts will be invited to future meetings. [Undoubtedly to get more coverage in the Northwest Herald.]
Numerous studies have revealed the unsustainable property tax burden that is suffocating McHenry County taxpayers and businesses, and hampering job creation. The most recent study, according to an April 6 story in Crain’s Chicago Business, concludes that McHenry County homeowners pay more on average than 96 percent of the rest of the nation.
Property taxes have steadily increased for McHenry County taxpayers despite the fact that many home values fell with the crash of the housing
market a decade ago.
School representatives will meet with Franks, county administrative staff, and board members Aavang, Spoerl, Chris , Chris Christensen, R-Cary, Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, and Mike Skala, R-Huntley.
Aavang is chairwoman of the board’s Law and Government Committee. Christensen and Spoerl served on the District 26 school board, Skala served on the District 158 school board, and Wilbeck served on the McHenry County College Board of Trustees.
“As someone who helped guide District 26 through some very painful financial decisions to balance the budget, I very much understand the need for quality schools. But I also understand that my constituents are being crushed by high property taxes. There is no reason that we can’t have good schools as well as a sustainable tax burden that does not force people out of their homes. We have to find that balance – our future as a county depends on it,” Spoerl said.
McHenry County has no statutory authority over school districts. Franks said the discussion will focus on finding meaningful and realistic cost savings, such as examining budget surpluses, the amount of administrative overhead, space utilization, joint purchasing and sharing of resources.
“Our taxpayers can no longer afford to hear local governments say that it can’t be done or that the status quo can’t be challenged. I can’t say this bluntly enough – our taxpayers are in crisis. Every day, I get heartbreaking calls and letters from constituents telling me they can’t afford to stay in their homes anymore. Our kids are leaving out of state for college and not coming back because they can’t afford to settle down here. Taxpayers are watching their taxes for schools go up while they watch student enrollment drop. This is unsustainable. If we don’t fix this, there’s going to be no students left to teach and no taxpayers left to pay the bill,” Franks said.
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All School Superintendents Agree to Meet with County Board Members June 5th
The School Superintendents sent the following reply to Franks’ command performance:
Dear Chairman Franks,
We would like to thank you for your invitation to meet on May 10th in the County Board Room. May is a very busy month for school districts.
As a result, many of our colleagues invited to the meeting are unable to attend.
As district leaders, we believe school funding is an important issue for our school communities and elected school boards.
Therefore, it is imperative that all McHenry County District Superintendents have the opportunity to engage with you at the same time to make the conversation meaningful on this important topic.
Since many of the invited guests are unable to attend on May 10th, we propose the following alternative.
All McHenry County Superintendents have agreed to meet with you and your staff at McHenry County College either on Tuesday, June 5th at 8:00 AM or Wednesday, June 6th at 11:00 AM in the Scot Room.
We believe this dialog affects all of our districts and will allow all McHenry County Superintendents to hear your vision for tax relief in McHenry County.
We are also interested to learn more about the role you believe McHenry County Board will play in the process of reducing school tax levies by at least 10% by the year 2020.
We all share the collective responsibility to ensure we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
In addition, we also share a collective responsibility to provide our students with a comprehensive and competitive education that will afford them multiple options and opportunities as they move through and ultimately graduate from McHenry County Public Schools.
Thank you again for the invitation. The McHenry County Superintendents look forward to meeting with you soon.
McHenry County School District Superintendents
|Nippersink District 2||Fox River Grove District 3||Johnsburg District 12|
|Dr. Thomas Lind||Dr. Tim Mahaffy||Dr. Dan Johnson|
|McHenry Elementary District 15||Riley District 18||Alden-Hebron District 19|
|Dr. Alan Hoffman||Mrs. Christine Conkling||Dr. Debbie Ehlenburg|
|Cary Elementary District 26||Harrison District 36||Prairie Grove District 46|
|Dr. Brian Coleman||Dr. Susan Wings||Dr. John Bute|
|Crystal Lake Elementary District 47||Harvard District 50||Marengo High School District 154|
|Dr. Kathy J. Hinz||Dr. Corey Tafoya||David N. Engelbrecht, Ed.S.|
|Crystal Lake High School Dist 155||McHenry High School District 156||Richmond-Burton CHS Dist 157|
|Mr. Steven E. Olson||Dr. Ryan McTague, Ph.D.||Dr. Thomas Lind|
|Huntley District 158||Marengo-Union Elem. Dist 165||Woodstock District 200|
|Dr. Bradley Hawk||Lea Damisch, Ed.S.||Dr. Mike Moan|