McSweeney Passes Township Tax Freeze

A press release from State Rep. David McSweeney:

House Agrees Illinois Needs McSweeney’s Property Tax Relief Bill

Springfield, IL…. The Illinois House of Representatives today approved Rep. David McSweeney’s (R-Barrington Hills) legislation to provide property tax relief for Illinois residents.

The new Dorr Township Hall just southeast of Route 47 at 1035 Lake Avenue.

The new Dorr Township Hall just southeast of Route 47 at 1035 Lake Avenue.

The Legislation (House Bill 178) passed the full House today by a vote of 75-37.

The bill would help reduce skyrocketing property taxes here in Illinois by freezing the property tax levy for many townships for a one year period.

“Year after year, Illinois ranks near the bottom of the list of tax friendly states,” Rep. McSweeney stated.

“My bill isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a first step that will be a welcome news for many Illinois families. Property tax relief is long overdue.”

The bill moves to the Senate for further consideration. Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.

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The bill applies to township under 100,000 people. All townships in McHenry County have fewer than 100,000 people.

The roll call follows:

The roll call on David McSweeney's township tax freeze bill, House Bill 178.

The roll call on David McSweeney’s township tax freeze bill, House Bill 178.

Excluded from the freeze are

  • highway funds
  • general assistance funds
  • unemployment and workers’ compensation
  • self-insurance
  • contributions to pension plans

Lakewood Plans More Bike Lanes

A press release from the Village of Lakewood:

2015 Lakewood Road/Lake Ave Improvement Project Update

As highlighted in previous Village newsletters and public meetings, the Village has been awarded federal grant funding for constructing bike lanes and resurfacing Lakewood Road from Ackman Road to Haligus Road and Lake Avenue from Huntley Road to the west Village limits.

2015 will see a bike path built in Lakewood in front of West Beach and the Village Hall.

2015 will see a bike path built in Lakewood in front of West Beach and the Village Hall.

The bid was awarded to Curran Contracting Company, who anticipates the project starting on or before May 1st, with construction to be completed by late Fall 2015.

The construction currently occurring along these same roadways is related to a Nicor Gas utility project to relocate their gas main to allow the Village’s improvements to be completed.

The gas main relocation on Lakewood Road is scheduled to be completed in early May, and the gas main relocation on Lake Ave. should be completed in mid/late May.

Nicor currently is working on both roadways with multiple crews to complete the installations as quickly as possible.

The roadways will remain open to two-way traffic with flaggers to assist in guiding traffic through the construction zone during Nicor’s work.

Protective construction fencing, barrels and cones are being utilized to block off any excavations that have been made, but please still use caution around the work areas.

Open excavations are required for the connection of the new gas main to the existing, and should be filled in soon after connections are completed.

All installations and work is occurring in the public right of way, and Nicor has hired a surveyor to mark these limits to eliminate any confusion.

A bike path will also be constructed along Lakewood Road.

A bike path will also be constructed along Lakewood Road from Haligus to Lakewood Road, project that Village President Erin Smith has long sought.

The Village’s road construction project that will commence on or about May 1 includes widening the existing pavement 3’ to 4’ on both sides of the road and resurfacing the entire pavement.

Pavement markings will be used to delineate 4’ bike lanes and 10’ travel lanes, as well as reflective markers along the curves on Lakewood Road.

No changes to the alignments of the existing curves are anticipated.

The addition of the bike lanes will require that the existing ditches be regraded, and/or filled in and replaced with parkway inlets and storm sewer.

Restoration will be performed at the conclusion of the project and will include the replacement of eleven trees.

A guardrail will be installed on Lakewood Road where the culvert crosses under Lakewood Road to minimize the impacts to adjacent wetlands.

The Village expects this project will also assist in correcting the low spot at the far west end of Lake Avenue that floods regularly and causes standing water on the pavement for extended periods, as well as correcting other nuisance drainage problems.

There will be much construction activity during this time.

However, the roadways will remain open to two-way traffic, by using flaggers to guide traffic through the construction zone.

There will be short periods of time when access to and from properties located adjacent to the construction site will be limited.

The Village, contractor, and/or the Village’s engineering consultant will attempt to provide notice prior to these access restrictions.

For regular status updates throughout the project or for further information, please visit the Construction Projects page of the Village’s website, village.lakewood.il.us.

Exhibits have been made available for download on the website and are also available at Village Hall.

Residents with an interest in being emailed with construction updates are encouraged to forward their email address to [email protected] Any additional questions or concerns can be directed to Deputy Village Manager Shannon Andrews at (815) 459-3025.

Probe of Kane County Deputy Sheriff Kim Zinke Confirmed

The Illinois State Police has confirmed that Kane County Deputy Sheriff Kim Zinke is under investigation.

The First Electric Newspaper has addition information, which can be found here.

Andy Zinke, his wife Kim and a son stand before an American flag in this campaign GOP Sheriff's Primary Election mailing.

Andy Zinke, his wife Kim and a son stand before an American flag in this GOP Sheriff’s Primary Election mailing.

Zinke is the wife of former McHenry County Undersheriff Andy Zinke.

Kim Zinke used to work for the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.

A Benefit of Consolidating Township Governments

Back in the 1970’s, Algonquin Township Assessor Forrest Hare computerized his office, probably the first to do so in the State of Illinois.

He also took an interest in how assessment could be made more accurate.

Hare looked at measures of accuracy called “Coefficients of Dispersion.”

I figured out that calling them “margins of error,” terms used in polling, would make the measures more understandable.

A good COD or margin of error was and I suspect is 10%.

That’s not particularly good, but assessing real estate is not an exact process.

If one had a sales tax of 5%, which Illinois did in the 1970’s, a margin of error of 10% would mean that half the people buying $100 worth of goods would pay between $4.50 and $5.50 sales tax.

The other half would pay more or less than that range.

So,for purposes of equity, it is important to keep the margin of error as low as possible.

What Hare found was that there was a break point of about 5,000 people between better assessments and those which were really bad.

My guess was that with more than 5,000 people, a township could afford to have a full-time assessor, which would result in more accurate assessments.

Based on that research, I introduced a bill to create Multi-Township Assessors.

On a voluntary basis, the bill, which is now state law, a township board could agree with one or more other township boards to create the elective office of Multi-Township Assessor.

McHenry County's seventeen townships.

McHenry County’s seventeen townships.

Townships under 5,000 people in McHenry County as of the 2010 Census follow:

  • Alden – 1.402
  • Coral – 3,522
  • Dunham – 2,844
  • Hartland – 2,031
  • Hebron – 2,356
  • Seneca – 2,944
  • Riley – 2,922

Burton was just three people over 5,000.

The other problem with having assessments done by a jurisdiction with a small number of properties is that there is a small number of sales.

Below are the Coefficients of Dispersion (among other information published by the Illinois Department of Revenue for those townships in McHenry County with enough sales to calculate statistics:

Assment headers 2012 IL Rev Dept

McHenry County real estate assessment and quality data for 2013 (taxes collected in 2014).

McHenry County real estate assessment and quality data for 2013 (taxes collected in 2014).

Let me pull off the township margin of error numbers to make them easier to read:

  • Algonquin – 38.23%
  • Burton – 37.04%
  • Chemung – 46.16%
  • Dorr – 27.07%
  • Grafton – 46.26%
  • Greenwood – 27.71%
  • Marengo – 38.71%
  • McHenry – 29.24
  • Nunda – 37.69%
  • Richmond – 40%

Data for all the other smaller townships are aggregated. That means the averages represent no particular township. Some townships may be assessed way higher or lower than others.

The most recent (2012, but collected in 2013) real estate assessment information for all the smallest townships in McHenry County.

The most recent (2012, but collected in 2013) real estate assessment information for all the smallest townships in McHenry County.

All other – 30.68%

The average Coefficient of Dispersion for McHenry County was 35.45%.

Earth Day in Lakewood

A press release from the Village of Lakewood:

Earth Day at Chesterbrook Academy

April 22, 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, which is a movement dedicated to raising awareness and support for programs that improve the environment.

Village Trustee Ken Santowski gets down and dirty on Earth Day.

Village Trustee Ken Santowski gets down and dirty on Earth Day.

This year, Chesterbrook Academy invited residents of Lakewood to participate in their Earth Day event, which included the planting of a vegetable garden at the school with all of the children.

Trustee Carl Davis helps the kids plant flowers.

Trustee Carl Davis helps the kids plant flowers.

The plants were generously donated by Kolze’s Corner Gardens, another business located in Lakewood.

The flowers were planted in front of Chesterfield.

The flowers were planted in front of Chesterfield Academy with the help of Trustee Bev Thomas.

The produce collected during the Spring and Summer seasons will be donated to the Grafton Food Pantry. This event truly embodied the spirit of the Lakewood community.

Board member Gene Furey was there, but missed the photo op.

McConnaughay and Tryon Criticized for Road Fund Diversion

Part of the deal to cope with the gaping hole that Illinois Democrats passed onto Republican Governor Bruce Rauner resulted in the raiding of various earmarked funds.

The Road Fund was one of them.

The Democrats have raided it repeatedly since the beginning of the 21st Century.

Local 150 of the Operating Engineers mailed this in State Rep. Mike Tryon's district.

This was mailed n State Rep. Mike Tryon’s district.

Here's the back of the Local 150 mailing.

Here’s the back of the mailing.


Here is Tryon’s rebuttal.

Vapors Fail Teen Test

A press release from the Crystal Lake Police Department:

Crystal Lake Police Conduct Tobacco Compliance Checks

On April 21st, 2015 Crystal Lake Police Officers conducted a third round of Tobacco Compliance Checks within the City limits.

A total of 36 businesses within the City that hold valid licenses to sell tobacco products were checked and of them 34 were found to be in compliance.

Two businesses failed the checks, selling components of e-cigarettes to underage minors, violations of local ordinance, and were subsequently cited.

Businesses cited were:

  • Vapor Hut LLC, 30 North Williams Street, Crystal Lake
  • Vapor Place Inc, 119 North Main Street, Crystal Lake.

Operating under a State funded grant, the Illinois Liquor Commission has been the lead agency in developing strategies that reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors.

Crystal Lake Police will continue the campaign throughout 2015 in an effort to stop illegal tobacco and e-cigarette product sales to minors by the implementation and expansion of community-based programs, utilizing retail education, enforcement and public awareness.

Both cases will be heard at an Adjudication Hearing to be conducted at the Crystal Lake City Hall on Friday, May 8th, 2015.

McSweeney Bill to Freeze Township Public Aid Taxes on House Floor

A press release from State Rep. David McSweeney:

Rep David McSweeney’s Property Tax Relief Bill Moves Forward

Springfield, IL… The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee unanimously advanced legislation yesterday aimed at giving Illinois residents some much-needed property tax relief by passing State Representative David McSweeney’s (R-Barrington Hills) House Bill 178.

HB 178 would freeze the property tax extension within most property tax extension limitation law (PTELL) township general funds for a one-year period, the 2015 levy year, which is billed in 2016.

A new report released from WalletHub ranks Illinois as the worst state in the US to be a taxpayer – ranking 51st when the District of Columbia is considered.

According to the report, residents here in Illinois have the highest state and local tax obligations, paying two and a half times more than the lowest tax states.

David McSweeney

David McSweeney

“I’m pleased the House Revenue and Finance Committee acknowledged that Illinois taxpayers need some relief,” Rep. McSweeney stated.

“Property tax relief is something I hear about frequently from my constituents. The time to provide Illinois homeowners with some property tax relief is long overdue.”

The bill would impose a one-year freeze on township general fund tax levies in townships which have populations of less than 100,000 and are in areas subject to the PTELL.

The bill has bipartisan support and awaits a vote on the House floor.

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All townships in McHenry County have fewer than 100,000 people.

Operating Engineers Charge County Board with Open Meetings Act Violation

Here’s the guts of the case:

Woodstock Opera House one summer when the painted horses were all over the Downtown area.

Woodstock Opera House one summer when the painted horses were all over the Downtown area.

On or about April 7, 2015, a meeting to discuss the Governor’s resolution at the Woodstock Opera House was scheduled for April 8, 2015. Governor Rauner, members of the Woodstock City Council, members of the McHenry County Board, and three members of the press were notified of the meeting.

On information and belief, the public was not notified of this meeting, nor was an agenda posted at the McHenry County Building, on the McHenry County Board website, or at the Woodstock Opera House in advance of the meeting…

On April 8, 2015, at 8:00 AM, Governor Rauner, members of the Woodstock City Council, and at least eight of the twenty-four McHenry County Board members arrived at the Woodstock Opera House to discuss the Governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” resolution as well as other public matters. The members of the McHenry County Board in attendance included, at a minimum: Yvonne Barnes (District 1), James L. “Jim” Heisler (District 2), Chairman Joseph Gottemoller (District 3), Nick Provenzano (District 3), Charles “Chuck” Wheeler (District 4), Tina Hill (District 5), Michele Aavang (District 6), and Larry W. Smith (District 6). Under McHenry County Board rules, a quorum of the Board is thirteen (13) members. A majority of that quorum was present at the Opera House meeting with the Governor.

Upon information and belief, the members of the McHenry County Board in attendance did not vote to close the meeting, nor did they cite any specific exemption in the Open Meetings Act that would have allowed closure of the meeting.

Members of the public, some of whom were union-supporters, also arrived at the Woodstock Opera House to attend the meeting on April 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM and sought to participate in the discussion. However, the members of the public were banned from entering the public building by uniformed officers of the Woodstock Police Department. The Police told the members of the public that they were not allowed in the meeting or the building and that the meeting was by invitation only. The members of the public were not permitted to enter the building or attend the meeting.

The meeting at the Opera House began at approximately 8:00 AM. During the meeting, Governor Rauner discussed the provisions of his proposed “Turnaround Agenda” resolution. Several individuals present voiced concerns about the legality of the resolution in light of the Attorney General’s opinion, and how the resolution would impact the Illinois Local Government Distributive Funds. Governor Rauner responded to these concerns and told the group that if they passed his proposed resolution, he would not need to cut their Local Government Distributive Funds “as much.”

In addition, several members of the McHenry County Board discussed their views on the specifics of the pending “Turnaround Agenda” resolution and whether they would support the resolution during their County Board Regular Meeting the following day. Specifically, Chairman Gottemoller spoke with his fellow Board members in support of Governor Rauner’s resolution, and at least one member of the Board encouraged other members to vote in favor of the Governor’s resolution at the Regular Meeting the following day.

Upon information and belief, no one took minutes of the meeting, no one made a verbatim recording of the meeting, and no one made available minutes of the meeting for public inspection at the County Building or on the County Board’s website.

The photo of Governor Bruce Rauner with eight McHenry County Board members used as evidence that an illegal meeting was held.

The photo of Governor Bruce Rauner with eight McHenry County Board members used as evidence that an illegal meeting was held.

On April 8, 2015, McHenry County posted pictures of the Opera House meeting on its Facebook page, showing Governor Rauner meeting with members of the County Board (Exhibit A attached hereto). The caption for the Facebook post read, “Photos from the Governor’s visit this morning to the Woodstock Opera House to discuss the Turnaround Agenda and how it will empower voters with more local control”. One of the photos shows Governor Rauner posing with an eight (8)-member majority of the thirteen (13)-member quorum of the Board; including:

  • Yvonne Barnes (District 1)
  • James L. “Jim” Heisler (District 2)
  • Chairman Joseph Gottemoller (District 3)
  • Nick Provenzano (District 3)
  • Charles “Chuck” Wheeler (District 4)
  • Tina Hill (District 5)
  • Michele Aavang (District 6)
  • Larry W. Smith (District 6).

On April 9, 2015, at 9:00 AM, the McHenry County Board held its Regular Meeting. During the meeting, the Board considered and voted 16-5 to pass Governor Rauner’s proposed resolution as written, despite vigorous opposition by a packed room of residents and other interested parties. Of those in attendance at the Opera House meeting the day prior, all but one voted in support of the Governor’s resolution. [Hill voted against the resolution.]

As a direct and proximate result of the circumstances of these Open Meetings Act violations, Plaintiffs and the citizens of McHenry County have cause to question the integrity and process of the McHenry County Board as well as the integrity of the discussion and ultimate vote on the Governor’s resolution.

Local 150 asks for for the following relief:

  • an injunction prohibiting the McHenry County Board from committing future violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act
  • minutes from the April 8, 2015 Opera House meeting
  • costs and fees

Declaring null and void the County Board’s passing of the Governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” resolution during the April 9, 2015 Regular Meeting, or, alternatively, declaring null and void any votes cast on the Governor’s resolution during the April 9, 2015 Regular Meeting by members of the County Board who were in attendance at the April 8, 2015 Opera House meeting

The only local attorney mentioned in the filing is Mark Gummerson.  The others all work for the union local.

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The resolution in question was a non-binding expression of the McHenry County Board’s opinion.