“Completed applications should be returned to the County Board office no later than 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 12, 2013. If mailing your application, certified or registered mail is recommended. Mailed applications should be sent to the following address: McHenry County Board, 2200 North Seminary Avenue, Woodstock, IL 60098.”
Drainage tile lines are visible in this MCCD photo used by Ed Collins
A northern Illinois group called Openlands held its first water supply roundtable of 2011.
Called “Letting It All Soak In: Nature’s Role in Protecting Water Resources,” it featured speakers on various topics, a summary of which can be found here.
According to the report, “100 attendees…learned why conserving and restoring natural areas, such as wetlands and prairie, can help naturally treat and store rainwater and maintain ample freshwater supplies in our region.”
The beauty of Nippersink Creek, another photo used in the Openlands water roundtable presentation.
One of the speakers was the McHenry County Conservation District’s Ed Collins. Here’s how his talk was summarized:
McHenry County Conservation District Natural Resource Manager Ed Collins, who discussed the positive results of re-meandering Nippersink Creek, including reduced flooding in nearby communities, enhanced local ecosystems, and recharged groundwater, not to mention “awakening it from a 50-year coma.” He continued, “It’s just one of the success stories that make metropolitan Chicago a national leader in restoration techniques and philosophy. (View Ed Collins’s presentation here (a wonderful slide show) and see what he had to say after the roundtable below.)”
The petitions for re-election are being circulated for Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley and Council members Cathy Ferguson, Ellen Brady Mueller and Brett Hopkins.
The festivities were problem in front of the building you see next to the play area.
And, just in time for the campaign, there is an election kick-off party that required the of spending well over $10 million. $14.37 million, according to the Northwest Herald.
As pointed out in 2005, there was a cheaper way, at least for Crystal Lake area residents.
There was no need for a Tax Increment Financing District to pay for turning Vulcan Lakes into Three Oaks Recreation Area.
Indeed the announcement that a TIF would be formed to finance the project was what stimulated me to start McHenry County Blog. $115 million would be available, said the city’s consultant. Bill Cellini’s group won the contract from the council to do the development, but backed away from it after his name coming up in the Tony Rezko trial.
TIFs are just a way to force everyone (yes, everyone in any overlapping tax district, and because of McHenry County government and the McHenry County Conservation District, that means all county resident) not living in the TIF to pay for it.
It’s a tax increase that the city council voted on all of us.
Oh, wait. That isn’t the way it’s being financed.
With the recession and the decimation of the commercial strip on the Vulcan Lake side of Route 14, the city couldn’t sell bonds to pay for the enormous cost of TORA.
Tall street lights line the roads. This one runs to the parking lot area from Main Street.
MCCD undoubtedly would not have spent, how much, hundreds of thousands of dollars on fancy street lights for a facility that closes at sunset.
That way was to convince the McHenry County Conservation District to take it over.
Had the council done so, our area would have finally gotten back some of the tens of millions of our tax dollars that has been redistributed north, northwest and west, like a kid slinging a bucket of water. The pockets of those in District 47 have ended up as empty as the bucket, another victim of Illinois’ having way too many local governmental units.
But control of the facility was the primary goal of city officials.
And maybe their names on a plaque. The edifice complex in action.
Bragging rights they have achieved include
having been instrumental in constructing the facility and
like Barack Obama, forcing the payment for it on their grandchildren.
Not to mention the ability to feature on their campaign literature what a great accomplishment opening the facility has been.
I couldn’t get close enough to take photos of the council members taking credit for the project without paying $5 for parking.
Not worth the price, so I’ll just run photos of the six council members who voted to raise the city sales tax 75%. There won’t be the same backdrop, but credit will go where it is due.
Mayor Aaron Shepley
Councilman Ralph Dawson
Councilwoman Cathy Ferguson
Former Councilman Dave Goss
Councilman Brett Hopkins
Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller
Shepley, Ferguson, Hopkins and Brady Mueller are up for election next spring. Expect to see TORA on their campaign literature…assuming they even have an opponent requiring them to print any.
Notice how you don’t see any local governmental or school district officials bragging about how much their tax rate had gone down?
That’s because tax rates didn’t decrease this year.
For almost the past two decades, the Property Tax Cap forced rates down. That’s because when property values exceeded the cost of living, the local tax districts were prevented from grabbing everything they could, as was the case before the Tax Cap was imposed by the General Assembly.
The tax “take” was limited to an increase equal to the increase in the CPI, plus any new growth.
Not a lot of new growth this year and the three-year average used to measure the assessment level must have stabilized.
That means to get the same amount of money, plus the allowed increase in the CPI, rates had to be increased.
There was no problem in doing that because any tax district with a maximum rate was under it, a result of the tax cap having forced rates down during the 1990′s and since 2000.
My tax rates in the Algonquin Township part of Lakewood, for instance, increased from $7.136457 dollars per $100 of assessed valuation to $7.279611 per $100. That’s up about 2%.
When I was McHenry County Treasurer from 1966-1970, people could figure that out without pulling out last year’s tax bill.
Below you see the percentage increase in tax rates for my tax districts. The percentage increase is followed by the name of the local government. Next are last year’s and this year’s tax rates.
The McHenry County Conservation Foundation sounds all warm and fuzzy until you figure out that the Conservation Board set it up specifically to keep $1 million paid by Lakehead Pipeline out of MCCD’s coffers.
Out of the control of public officials and into the hands of ex-Conservation District leaders. Read the whole sordid tale here, as well as how that Foundation spent $137,000 million to pass bond issue in 2001.
I was more than fed up with the way the McHenry County Conservation District had borrowed $39 million without asking for permission at the ballot box after Lee Daniels and Pate Philip passed the tax hiking bill numbered Senate Bill 368.
That was the bill that gave tax districts that had behaved badly by taking out loans prior to the Tax Cap’s going into effect without asking for voter approval to continuing doing so forever.
It could be described as a revolving credit card which we taxpayers will never see paid off.
So, when MCCD trustees actually decided to put a referendum on the ballot the year after I got kicked out of office, why was I disturbed?
I went down into the catacombs, which my wife will have put in a dumpster when I die, and found a Daily Herald article from August 29, 1997. It which answers the question in one sentence.
Reporter Arthur Kane was writing a story about the Algonquin Township Board’s putting an advisory referendum on the ballot asking whether voters wanted the Conservation District to buy more land in Algonquin Township.
MCCD at the time was trying to condemn what was then being called Gentry Ridge, but which most long-timers will remember as the ski resort owned by Henry Carroll called Fox Trails. I knew the property pretty well because my good high school friend Tom Carroll lived there before his father built the resort.
In any event, here’s the sentence from the story:
“(MCCD Executive Director Craig) Hubert said traditionally the district did not buy land in Algonquin Township because it” was more expensive.”
Any dim bat could tell you that land in the Southeastern-most township in McHenry County would be the most expensive. It’s closest to Chicago.
But, that was and is no reason to spend virtually nothing in the most populated township in McHenry County.
Cary has made out pretty good with
the purchased 168 acre Fox Trails/Gentry Ridge property, now called Fox Bluff Conservation Area
the donated 220 acres in the Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area south of Rawson Bridge Road near the Fox River
the 440-acre Hickory Grove Conservation Area/Lyons’ Prairie and Marsh,
the donated 338-acre Hollows, an old gravel pit between Crystal Lake and Cary
the 840-acre Silver Creek Conservation Area on the Fox River northwest of Fel-Pro in Nunda Township
The rest of the township can boast of a bike path and the Lake in the Hills Fen, which will finally be accessible from Crystal Lake behind CVS Pharmacy.
So, if you get the feeling that I think the money from my immediate area has been spent elsewhere, you would be correct. Virtually none of it was being spent where most of the people in my state rep district lived, which was south of Crystal Lake Avenue in Algonquin and Grafton Townships.
Hence, this re-entry into the political arena in 2001:
Last Friday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article by Andrea Brown about how Dundee Township has a 160-acre mined out gravel pit.
That reminds me of a hint dropped by Ken Koehler back in 2001 when I got so fed up with the McHenry County Conservation District’s ignoring of the Crystal Lake, Algonquin, eastern Lake in the Hills area that I applied for one of the board vacancies.
Of course I didn’t get selected.
I told the interview committee that my goal was to redress the discrimination against this part of the county by MCCD boards over the years.
I suggested that redress could be achieved by buying gravel pits in the area.
At the time there were several thousand acres of pits between Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin and Lake in the Hills. Here’s my dream for the area.
Koehler hinted that the purchase of a gravel pit might be in the conservation district’s future.
Now, eight years later, it seems to have been far, far into its future.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather see mined out gravel pits become parks than sites for subdivisions or row houses.
So, I guess the Northwest Herald ad placers are not the only ones dissatisfied with the way the conservation district buys property.
Readers may remember the evidence I have posted how the McHenry County Conservation District treats the Crystal Lake area as if it were a rug covered with money.
The MCCD acts as a vacuum machine, picking up money from the greater Crystal Lake area and dumping it around the western and northern edges of McHenry County. Crystal Lake got $90,000 from the $68.5 million 2001 referendum, for instance. Here’s what the rest of the county got.
The perpetual (since it founding) excuse of its appointed trustees is that it wants to buy as many acres as possible and land is cheaper around the edges of McHenry County.
The inevitable result will be the creation of rich people subdivisions overlooking conservation areas. If you doubt my prediction, take a look at where the Cook County Forest Preserve District has bought land. Lots of it is in the northwest corner in a village now called Barrington Hills.
Not a lot of “affordable” housing there.
Chick to enlarge the ad.
If the Northwest Herald had lived up to its promise to provide home delivery for the dollar I paid the Saturday before last, I would have found the ad myself.
But the NW Herald hasn’t got its act together. It has not yet delivered one paper from my March 21st subscription.
So when I friend sent me a copy of the ad, I was surprised.
Who are the unnamed Concerned Citizens of McHenry County?
I surely hope one of them sends me an email. (Look way, way down at the bottom right for the email box.)
The ad points out that the MCCD has bought 1,500 acres for $156 million.
The per acre cost, including interest, is calculated to range from
$47,937 for 127 acres to
$94,929 for 31 acres to
$100,000 for 32 acres
The above information was obtained from the district’s 2008 annual report, plus Real Estate Transfer Declarations, the ad says.
The people buying the ad think the land is worth about $11,500 an acre. They say it comes from 2005-6 farmland sales.
Interesting information. I wonder where it comes from.