Debt Burden of Woodstock Taxpayers

After Fox River Grove sent out its press release about being debt-free, Mark did the research on what Woodstock area taxpayers have in public debt:

Bill Murray tried to kill himself by jumping out of the Opera House tower to no avail in “Groundhog Day.”

Pension Fund Unfunded Liabilities (Net Pension Liabilities):

  • City of Woodstock, IMRF Regular: $8,067,929
  • City of Woodstock, IMRF SLEP: $22,185
  • City of Woodstock, Downstate Police: $14,383,455

City of Woodstock total: $22,473,569.

Woodstock Fire Rescue District, Downstate Fire: $16,111,360.


  • City of Woodstock, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), for the year ended April 30, 2019.
  • Woodstock Fire Rescue District, Annual Financial Report (AFR), for the year ended April 30, 2019.


The Woodstock Fire Rescue District has different boundaries than the City of Woodstock.

This is evident in the “Taxcode Detail within District Report” available on the County Clerk website.

A chronic unfunded pension liability is a Ponzi scheme, meaning the previous contributions are not adequate to cover future payouts for service already rendered.


Debt Burden of Woodstock Taxpayers — 12 Comments

  1. Yes, and the failed Woodstock Mayor is running for IL State Representative as a Democrat!

    He’s ruined Woodstock and now wants to go to Springfield to help Madigan put the last nail in Illinois’ coffin.

  2. How does the city of Woodstock incur liability under IMRF-SLEP which is the “Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Pension” program?

    Perhaps that liability is the county’s?

  3. It would be nice to make this a series comparing multiple municipalities.

    We could look at total debt and debt per capita.


    Woodstock Taxable property (non-TIF) is liable for School debt.
    Woodstock CUSD 200 CAFR states principal debt at $95 million in 2020. That is in compliance with legal reporting but off by $50 million additional actual dollars debt.
    pg 39

    Woodstock D200 has HIDDEN DEBT of $50 million interest accruing, owed interest on a 2006 CAB (capital appreciation bond)which borrowed $13 million in 2006 at 8 1/2% compounding interest rate, but will owe $50 million interest in addition to that principal, in 2022.

    So living in Woodstock, which means property is obligated to pay for school district 200 debt, taxable (NON-TIF ) properties are obligated to a debt of around $150 million.

    The amount per property of debt burden is best calculated as a percentage of property value.
    EAV of D200 is around $800 million, so $150 million debt divided by $800 million EAV indicates a a debt obligation of 18.75% of EAV; or 6.25% of total fair market value of ALL Woodstock taxable property.

    (Remember, TIF free-riders, new residents for whom these school buildings were built ARE PROTECTED BY LAW FROM ANY OBLIGATION FOR THIS DEBT BURDEN. They are not legally allowed to pay this debt, only NON-TIF properties are obligated to pay this debt. Learn about TIF!!).


    ADD to the Capital debt of Woodstock D200 all the UNFUNDED PENSION LIABiLITY and OPEBs at D200.
    Unfunded pension liability is a debt of all taxable property owners in Illinois one way or another, but the new school funding law shifted some of that burden to local sourced obligation.

    What is NOT reported in a clear and transparent manner are OPEBs.
    OPEBs (Other Post-Employment Benefits) are 100% ALWAYS a local obligation.
    These are a HUGE obligation, growing annually, and some of these obligations are to pay for staff bennies incurred to pay for teaching OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS’ ENROLLMENT AT WOODSTOCK TAXPAYERS EXPENSE.
    A prime example of this is Clay Academy.
    Only about 15% of Clay enrollment is local D200 Woodstock area students, the rest–85%– are tuition students from other districts. And they pay a discount to their actual costs.

    Illinois law dictates that the school district providing the employment is obligated for the OPEBs (in addition to capital costs for buildings; Clay Academy costs taxpayers at least $200,000 annually to keep to Code), so Woodstock taxpayers are on the hook for all the Clay Academy 55-year-old retirees forever, even though they would not have been employed had Woodstock D200 Board not taken on the role of providing discounted services to other districts and hiring a huge Clay Academy staff, and maintaining Clay building to Code at the expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year….ALL these hundreds of thousands of dollars annually SOLELY at the expense and obligation of ONLY Woodstock D200 taxpayers: NOT EVEN STATE MONEY PAYS FOR THIS.

    So whatever you think your home is worth, know that there is a “silent mortgage” on your home owing school debt of 6.25% of your total home value for old buildings built in 2007 to house TIF free-riders.
    Some more percentage of your home value is encumbered with debt to pay more-than-Cadillac health insurance premiums and other benefits to 55-year-olds retired (or double-dipping) who were only hired in order to provide (85% of enrollment) free-riders from other school districts a discounted tuition to Clay Academy.
    Some percentage of your home value is encumbered because in the end, the Illinois State Constitution guarantees these 3% COLA pensions to these 55-year-old retirees FOREVER, and if everyone flees then they just get title to get your real estate, I suppose.

    Is this a good time to bring up 60-Minutes report Sunday night about genetic engineering elongating lifespans indefinitely? Anyone care to calculate what the 125-year-old teachers who retired at age 55 will be billing Woodstock D200 for pensions and OPEBs?

    Is is a talking point that maybe it is a moral obscenity to demand that teachers and government employees get free taxpayer- paid pensions and health insurance,,,,but doctors and nurses in Illinois who are obligated to care for them—elongate the 55-year-old teachers’ QALY all the way to, who knows, with Cadillac healthcare provision age 125 is more likely than docs-and-nurses lifespan projections—- is it a moral obscenity that docs and Nurses in Illinois have to provide for their own pensions and health insurance at their own risk and expense…while the value of their Illinois homes drop and drop as a function of taxpayers’ teacher pension obligations?

  5. The are three official types of government fire & rescue protection in Illinois.

    1. Fire Department, which is a department within a municipality unit of government.

    2. Fire Protection District (FPD), which are not part of a municipality but a separate unit of government which almost always has a different geographic boundary than any associated municipality(s).

    3. Rescue Squad District (RSD), which similar to a FPD is not part of a municipality of a separate unit of government.


    Fire departments, FPD, & RSD covering portions of McHenry County:

    Algonquin Lake in the Hills FPD

    Barrington Countryside FPD

    Cary FPD

    Crystal Lake Fire Department

    Crystal Lake Rural FPD

    Fox River Grove FPD

    Harvard FPD

    Hebron Alden Greenwood FPD

    Huntley FPD

    Marengo FPD

    Marengo RSD

    McHenry Township FPD

    Nunda Rural FPD

    Richmond Township FPD

    Spring Grove FPD

    Union FPD

    Wauconda Fire District (FPD)

    Wonder Lake FPD

    Woodstock Fire / Rescue District (FPD)

    There may be other FPD or RSD that cover portions of McHenry County.


    In terms of operations, there are two types of Fire Protection Districts.

    A. Has its own buildings, trucks, firefighters, etc.

    B. Paper district. Exists on paper only. Outsources operations to another Fire Protection District or Fire Department via some agreement such as an intergovernmental agreement.


    Both fire departments and fire protection districts can have full time paid personnel, regular part time paid personnel, and / or volunteer personnel.

    Volunteer personnel are often paid per call, aka paid on call.


    The firefighters in the larger fire departments and fire protection districts participate in the Downstate Fire pension fund.

    The firefighters in some smaller fire departments and fire protection districts participate in the IMRF pension fund.

    Doubt many volunteer paid on call firefighters are covered by a public sector pension fund.


    There have been mergers / consolidations of the various types of districts over time.

    For instance, as the result of a successful referendum, in 1993 the Woodstock Rural Fire Protection District, Woodstock City Fire Department, and Woodstock Rescue Squad dissolved to create the Woodstock Fire Rescue District.


    Some examples of intergovernmental agreements:

    – The City of Crystal Lake provides fire and rescue services to the Crystal Lake Rural FPD

    – The City of Crystal Lake provides fire and rescue services to the Village of Lakewood


    The use of “Rural” or “Countryside” in a FPD name is historical and thus may cover some or all of what is currently an urban or suburban area.

    For example, Randall Road between Crystal Lake and Elgin through the 1980’s was a lightly two lane (one lane in each direction) road with just a few signal lights, with Jacobs HS in Algonquin basically sitting in the middle of a corn / soybean field.

    The I-90 / Randall Road interchange opened in 1990, and rapid development ensued.


    Another unit of local government is Townships.

    Dorr Township and Senaca Township both cover portions of Woodstock and both participate in the IMRF pension fund.


    Another unit of local government is school districts.

    Woodstock CUSD 200 participates in TRS and IMRF.

    The TRS unfunded pension liability is currently a state responsibility, although a proportionate share of it is allocated to the local school district.

    The proportionate share of the TRS unfunded liability attributed to the local school district(s) is in most cases the largest public sector unfunded pension liability attributed to local government operations.

    A big problem was and is was allowing local school districts to hike teacher and administrator salaries, yet leaving the unfunded pension liability (debt) the responsibility of the state rather than the local school district.

    Ditto for unused sick days.

    Ditto granting blocks of sick days in administrator contracts, over and above the annual allotment, an egregious taxpayer ripoff.


    Another unit of local government is library districts.

    Woodstock is unique in that Woodstock Public Library covers two property taxing districts:

    1) City of Woodstock (board appointed by the mayor, library has the same boundaries as the city)

    2) Rural Woodstock Public Library District (board elected by voters, library boundaries same as Woodstock CUSD 200 outside of city limits)

    Library employees would thus be covered by the City’s IMRF pension fund.


    As noted in the article, the City of Woodstock participates in the IMRF SLEP pension plan.

    IMRF SLEP = Sheriff Law Enforcement Plan.

    Outside of Counties, IMRF SLEP is commonly used for employees that retired from an employer participating in Downstate Police or Downstate Fire, is receiving a Downstate Police or Downstate Fire pension, and is thus simultaneously receiving a pension and salary.

    Illinois allows that with the logic the pension is covered by one pension system (Downstate Police or Downstate Fire), while the salary is covered by a different pension system (IMRF SLEP).

  6. The traditional method of comparing government debt is via bond disclosure documents.

    However there are some major flaws in municipal bond disclosure documents in the US.

    1. Not including bond interest of issued, outstanding, and overlapping debt (sometimes the interest is included, sometimes its not).

    2. Not including pension unfunded liabilities overlapping debt.

    3. Not including OPEP unfunded liabilities overlapping debt that is the responsibility of taxpayers (as opposed to the responsibility of of retirees).

    Thus the risk of default is greater than disclosed.

    Along with that is the risk of higher interest rates for future issues.

    The municipal bond market is bigger than the stock market, and large scale construction projects almost always include the issuance of bonds.

    That’s a lot of jobs.

    The bottom line is Illinois and America has a big debt problem.

    Although pension disclosure has improved, it is not good enough.

    The exclusion of pension debt from the recent Fox River Grove press release is just one indication that pension disclosure has not improved enough.

    How could the village even think of releasing such a press release?


    The debt at the state and local levels Illinois is bigger for pensions than bonds.


    Next, go beyond government, since we live in an interconnected world, meaning for instance, if more money goes to the government to fund bond and pension debt, consumers, business, and non profits have less to spending elsewhere.

    So who’s keeping tally of the overall debt?

    The government (national, state, local), consumer, business, and non profit debt is yet to be adequately and consistently disclosed in consolidated reports.

    Call that the US debt disclosure problem.

    What’s the big picture?

    Local, state, and the Federal government is not providing adequate disclosure.

    Thus it’s next to impossible for even educated experienced people to adequately understand the scope of that US debt problem.

    Information is all over the place.

    Add on top of that the fact the State of Illinois has not balanced its annual state budget since 2001, and can’t pay its bills on time, and we have a major problem.

    We could spend a lifetime pointing fingers but the bottom line is the State and many local of governments did not spend within their means for decades.

    Spending within your means, means fulling funding pensions from day 1, as opposed to chronically underfunding pensions.

    Most of the public sector pensions were not funded responsibily since the inceptions of the pensions, yet benefits and salaries continued to be hiked, an absurd practice resulting in overly expensive pensions.

    It is a culture of financial scheming and there are no indications that scheming will change.

    Instead, it’s business as usual.

    This year Chicago Mayor Lightfoot was part of hiking the pay of many classes of union covered employees in CPS (CTU and SEIU), yet no outcry to instead improve the funding of the pensions to reduce pension interest cost.

    CTU & SEIU were lobbying first and foremost for pay hikes, not more money to better fund pensions.

    That is the norm in Illinois.

    Then they will sooner or later complain the employer didn’t contribute enough to the pensions.


    The employees and unions deserve as much blame as anyone.

    Enjoy the party while it lasts.

    Perhaps the biggest casualty of the scheming is the slow appreciation, and in some cases depreciation, of property values in Illinois, compared to the rest of the nation.

    Property is like any other investment.

    There is no guaranteed appreciation of property, and the best indicator of that in Illinois was white flight from Chicago.

    Now it seems we have tax flight statewide.

    The top proposed “fix” is:

    Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 (SJRCA 1) – Allows the adjustable state income tax referendum on November 3, 2020.

    That’s taxing the income of millionaire and billionaires at a higher rate so they pay their fair share.

    Public Act 101-0008 (PA 101-0008) – Adjustable state income tax rates if the adjustable state income tax referendum passes.

    There are a few problems with that strategy.

    It will not result in enough money to solve the debt problem, and in fact there is no proposal to solve the debt problem.

    It will just buy a bit more time before something else is done.

    It is unknown how many millionaires and billionaires will move if their taxes are hiked.

    Every day that hiked pensions are not scaled back, is another day of more pension interest, which is another day of taxpayers funding pension interest, which is another day of higher taxes, fees, or service cuts, which is another day of slow property appreciation, or depreciation.

    And so the saga continues.

    On thing is for sure.

    Each election cycle the political operatives have the answer to get their candidate elected but not solve this financial mess.

  7. Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 (CUSD 200) is separate from the City of Woodstock.

    They are two separate units of government.

    Each is listed separately on property tax bills and are thus two separate property taxing districts.


    Woodstock CUSD 200

    Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

    For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2019 (FY 2019)

    Debt Service Schedules (Schedules 29 – 39)

    pdf pages 179 – 189 (which are pages 122 – 132 as numbered in the document)

    Issue – Principal & Interest

    2006B School Capital Appreciation Bonds – $63,700,000

    2010D Refunding School Bonds – $999,000

    2011A Refunding School Bonds – $3,653,394

    2012A Refunding School Bonds – $6,309,600

    2012B Refunding School Bonds – $1,534,500

    2013 Limited Bonds – $4,209,987

    2013A Refunding School Bonds – $9,097,850

    2014 Refunding School Bonds – $36,674,813

    2015A Refunding School Bonds – $9,778,450

    2015B Refunding School Bonds – $14,499,200

    2018 Refunding School Bonds – $18,082,000

    Total – $168,538,794


    Thankfully for each bond issue Woodstock CUSD 200 did itemize principal and interest by year; the detail is in the CAFR.

    It would have been nice if they added a summary schedule for all bond debt, as listed above.


    Next looking at Woodstock CUSD 200 unfunded pension liabilities (net pension liabilities).

    First, TRS (Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois).

    TRS is the pension plan for certified teachers and certified administrators.

    All full time teachers are required by state law to be certified, and most administrators (upper level management) are also certified.

    $293,057,593 (pdf page 72, page 41 as numbered in the document).


    Next looking at the unfunded pension liability for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

    This is the pension plan that covers most employees other than teachers and administrators.

    $13,752,241 (pdf page 78, page 47 as numbered in the document).


    Summary Woodstock CUSD 200 bond and pension debt:

    Bond principal and interest: $168,538,794

    TRS unfunded pension liability: $293,057,593

    IMRF unfunded pension liability: $13,752,241

    Total bond principal and interest, and pension unfunded liability: $475,348,628


    $475,348,628 is the total bond principal and interest, and unfunded pension liabilities, attributed to CUSD 200 operations.

    In other words $475,348,628 is bond and pension debt attributed to CUSD 200 operations.

    Local taxpayers owe the bond debt and the IMRF debt.

    State taxpayers owe the TRS debt.

    A small portion of the TRS debt ($4,216,402) is the “employer’s proportionate share” but the state has not held the school district responsible for that debt.


    In addition CUSD 200 has two types of retiree healthcare (OPEB) unfunded liabilities.

  8. Unlike Woodstock CUSD 200, the City of Woodstock does not itemize principal and interest outstanding for each of its bond issues.

    Meaning, the City of Woodstock does not make it easy for one to determine the bond debt, defining bond debt as principal and interest to be paid at a future date.

  9. Apples to apples debt comparisons between municipalities (villages, cities, towns) is difficult due to fire protection districts, park districts, library districts, sanitary districts, and intergovernmental agreements.

    Meaning, each municipality offers a unique set of services.

    What might be more meaningful to property taxpayers is their share of the debt of each property taxing district on their property tax bill.

    Divide your properties EAV by the EAV in each district, then multiply by the debt of each property taxing district on your property tax bill.

    For property taxing districts that span multiple counties, be sure to obtain the total EAV for the district, not just the EAV for example of the district in McHenry County.

    That approach has limitations too, namely, if a property taxing district receives revenue to pay debt from sources other than property taxes, that would need to be noted, and maybe the formula adjusted to provide a more meaningful picture of the property taxpayers debt burden.

    Perhaps someone has some ideas to refine that, or a completely different idea, but at the very least it’s a start to personalize municipal debt to property taxpayers.


    Some legally (Springfield politicians’) determined percentage of:
    Debt obligation of:

    1.County government obligations including police, Federal prisoner housing at below cost jail, County nursing home, e.g.

    2. Conservation District (including conservation district ‘police’ who get IMRF pension entitlements at local expense)

    3. County College (employees entitled to Constitutionally-guaranteed pensions and OPEBs at local expense)

    4. Township (including paid lunches, credit card purchases, overtime payments ‘on their honor’and other cash payments to employees who may be relatives, without oversight of any State or local law enforcement agency, and who may commit public monies to contracts with little or no oversight or enforcement outside of private watchdogs’ personal risk and expense))

    5. Township road district (see above, Google: Algonquin Township Miller for examples of alleged township road district patronage, nepotism, un-Statutorily-permitted spending on side-jobs/plowing non-Township snow, or restaurants or Disneyland tickets or expensive leather handbags, contract-gerryrigging, etcetera).

    6. Municipality–including all employees designed to raise your tax rates through generating TIF (Learn about TIF, it costs you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year)

    7. Library

    8. Fire&Rescue District

    9. SCHOOL DISTRICT, and ALL its pension obligations and OPEBs

  11. Thank you Susan and Mark.

    Loveass loves to spout off on things he’s clueless about.

    Woodstock sucks because of its leadership in local Government and its only going downhill fast.

    That special census was a sham so they could tax without representation and input from referendums.

    Tax to the max Democrats filling seats everywhere!

    What do you think is going to happen!?

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