Just got this email from a Friend of McHenry County Blog. I asked if I could share it and received permission.
“I’ve followed your blog from time to time, and appreciate your bringing things to light. Somehow you always seem to have an inside track on things and present them publicly… and I am very thankful for that.
“Today I heard for the first time about a move being made to put a Thornton’s Gas Station at the NE corner of Pearl St & 31, across from St Mary’s. Apparently there had been a previous vote by the city council asking for a variance allowing this to happen.
An aerial view of the neighborhood where the McHenry City Council is considering putting a Thornton’s Gas Station.
“Although i was not at this meeting, I was told there had been a traffic study on some weekdays in November, studying traffic and that was presented.
“There was also some other data including an increase in city revenue of $300-350k. My two cents here, but wouldn’t that mostly come at the expense of other local gas stations?
“But I digress… when I first heard about this, I went and searched your blog, but did not find anything on it. I did find an article in the NW Herald.
“My position in asking you about this is a purely personal one.
“I actually live behind St Marys, on Grand Ave.
“It’s usually a nightmare to try and turn on 31 as things are, let alone impossible on the weekends.
“Of all the possible places for a gas station in McHenry, this seems the absolute worse.
“There are what, 5 other gas stations within 1 mile of that spot?
“And an increase in traffic that a 24 hour 12 pump station? ugh.
“Anyhow, if you’ve looked into this already, can you please provide a link to your findings? If not, can you please?
“Also, there will be a ‘Neighborhood Meeting’ at St. Mary’s on Wednesday, 6 Feb at 7:30pm. Any help or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.”
The Fox River Grove taxeaters are a mere 9 votes behind in the midnight posting of votes in the sales tax hike referendum offered by Village officials.
It is conceivable that the tally might shift.
The tally at midnight was 439 to 430.
Here’s the ballot:
The village officials wanted citizens to hike the sales tax 25%, from one percentage point to 1.25 percentage points.
At least the folks in Fox River Grove were given a chance to vote.
When the Crystal Lake City Council hiked the city sales tax by 75%, there was no approval at the ballot box.
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In writing this article, I forgot that a subdivision of Fox River Grove is in Lake County. On election night it was showing a margin in favor of the tax hike that was 2 votes larger than the margin against the measure in McHenry County.
When the absentee and provisional ballots were sorted out, the measure tied.
Fox River Grove Village President Bob Nunamaker at Republican State Rep. Mike Tryon's Huntley fund raiser.
A press release from the Fox River Grove Police:
Sales Tax Referendum FAQ Parking
A large amount of residents are expected to attend the forum regarding the sales tax referendum this evening at 7:00 P.M. at the Village Hall.
Additional parking will be available in the Police Department lot off Opatrny Drive. The Police Department lobby door will remain unlocked to allow access to the Village Hall for those needing to park there.
Fox River Grove Sales Tax Referendum Informational Forum
Fox River Grove President Bob Nunamaker and Village Trustee Steve Knar will host a forum on Wednesday, February 29 to inform residents and the business community about the upcoming Sales Tax Referendum Question that will appear on the ballot on March 20th.
There will be a brief presentation about the referendum, with a question and answer session to follow. Local business, residents, and interested parties are encouraged to attend.
This is what the ballot will look like in Fox River Grove. Passage of the referendum will hike village sales taxes from 1% to 1 1/4%, a 25% increase.
The forum will be held at the Fox River Grove Village Hall, 305 Illinois St. at 7:00 p.m. For additional information contact the Village of Fox River Grove at (847) 639-3170.
I am sure he has concluded that people in Crystal Lake just don’t care. A justifiable political conclusion.
All who voted for the tax were Republicans, but the Democrats in Crystal Lake are so weak they put up no opposition in the non-partisan election.
What a wedge issue they would have had.
It still bothers me that financing Vulcan Lakes was used as an excuse for imposing the tax. The same reason was used to impose a Tax Increment Financing district on much of the Route 14 area now virtually vacant, plus Vulcan Lakes.
It also bothers me that there was only one week’s notice. Municipal officials around here don’t want a lot of public input on major decisions and giving virtually no notice certainly encourages lack of citizen participation.
There was an alternative way to finance development of Vulcan Lake, but it would have allowed anyone living in Crystal Lake to use the resulting recreation area.
Some Crystal Lake leaders apparently didn’t want outsiders to be able to enjoy the amenities–regardless of the lower taxes that would have been imposed on Crystal Lake residents and others shopping in Crystal Lake–if the McHenry County Conservation District had paid for the improvements with already existing taxes.
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Besides Mayor Aaron Shepley, the other council members who voted to raise Crystal Lake’s city sales tax 75% are seen above. Top row: former Councilman Dave Goss and current Council members Ralph Dawson and Ellen Brady-Mueller. Second row: Kathy Ferguson and Brett Hopkins.
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.
Cutting the sales tax from 6.25% to 3% is actually on the ballot as a binding referendum in Massachusetts.
Such political reforms by the will of the people is something that Illinois Democrats have long vehemently opposed.
Whenever you hear a Dem or liberal say they are fighting for the working person, ask them why Illinois Democrats oppose statewide referendums.
Ask them why tax related referendums aren’t allowed in Chicago.
Illinois Democrats want to keep political power away from such direct democracy votes.
And, speaking of sales taxes, anyone interested in running for the Crystal Lake City Council could make a whole campaign out of collecting enough signatures to abolish the Home Rule power that allowed the council to increase the city’s share of the sales tax 75%.
Today, the Illinois Republican Party is holding its day at the State Fair. Busloads are people are heading that way as I write this article.
When I went, it was called Governor’s Day. That was back in Jim Thompson’s time.
We would go to the lawn of the State Fair Superintendent’s on-site home and eat lunch before the Governor would speak.
I remember one year when I ate with State Rep. Harlan Rigney’s family. The Red Oak farmer had been a 1970 Con-Con delegate before being elected state representative in 1972, the same year I first won.
One of the highlights was to be Thompson’s signature of a bill that would eliminate the sales tax on farm machinery. The argument this northwestern Illinois Republican offered was that business was going to Iowa, where no sales tax was charged.
“Cal, this is tax relief I can see on my kitchen table,” he told me as we chowed down. Harlan had such an engaging grin.
Reminding me of this is an email I received from the Illinois GOP rolling out its Dismiss Quinn web site.
Dismiss Quinn promotion on the Illinois GOP email.
I am amused that the actual web site has something missing on the promotion in the email.
Top of the page of the Dismiss Quinn web site.
Notice the difference?
And, of course, those wishing change in state and local government could help their cause by sending a check to the candidate whom they most wish to be victorious. It doesn’t have to be a big one.
I remember the $15 check I received from a woman in Wonder Lake in 1972.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Bill Cowlin had commented to the Elgin Courier-Review in an article written by Algonquin’s Marion Gallery that electing me would be like “putting a fox in the chicken coop.”
She had received my first mailing, which, of course, asked for contributions. On the part she returned was a drawing of a fox.
Receiving it certainly made my day.
Every one-on-one race in which there is an incumbent boils down to a referendum on the incumbent. The challenger is essentially irrelevant.
Notice that there is no mention of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady on what I have reproduced above.
It’s all about the suitability of appointed incumbent Pat Quinn’s service. Some of us remember when he used to be a reformer, listing the names annually of the Double Dippers of Illinois.
The Coalition for Political Honesty.
That’s what he called his organization.
Now he takes the Double Dippers’ money to get elected.
Starting today, clothing and school supply shoppers can do their part to put state government into deeper in debt.
The headline of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown piece today sums it up:
Sales tax break
no net loss or
gain to state
But it gives pols something
upbeat to brag about to voters
Actually, if you interpret the word “state” to mean “state government,” instead of “the state’s economy,” it’s misleading.
Here’s the summary of economists’ opinions of the idea:
“Economists are pretty much agreed that when it comes to economic stimulation, such sales tax holidays are a bunch of nonsense that only cause consumers to change the timing of their spending, not increase it.”
Who says economists can’t make common sense?
Locally, all Republicans voted against this tax break. Big spender Jack Franks, our lone Democrat, voted for it.
The sales tax holiday will put pressure on state legislators to raise taxes, perhaps even to the level that Governor Pat Quinn’s budget officer told New York City a credit rating agency.
While denying that he wants to raise the state income tax 67%, the tax hike his budget guy advocated, Quinn has supported this high an increase since he ascended to the governor’s office. (You can get details on the legislation that Quinn supported here.)