Jeff Thorsen Elected McHenry County Board Vice Chairman

As suggested in an article last night, newly-elected Board member Jeff Thorsen (R-Crystal Lake) was elected Vice Chairman of the McHenry County Board Monday morning.

Also nominated was Mary McCann (R-Woodstock), a veteran Board member.

Thorsen beat her 13-10 with Michele Aavang being absent.

Crystal Laker Jeff Thorsen was sworn in as Vice Chairman of the McHenry County Board with thirteen of twenty-three Republican votes. His opponent Mary McCann received nine GOP votes and the one Democrat's vote.

Newly-elected Crystal Laker Jeff Thorsen was sworn in as Vice Chairman of the McHenry County Board with thirteen of twenty-three Republican votes. His opponent Mary McCann received nine GOP votes and the one Democrat’s vote.

The votes for Thorsen follow:

  • Kay Bates
  • Chris Christensen
  • Andrew Gasser
  • John Hammerand
  • John Heisler
  • Donna Kurtz
  • Michael Rein
  • John Reinert
  • Jeff Thorsen
  • Mike Walkup
  • Chuck Wheeler
  • Tom Wilbeck
  • Craig Wilcox

The votes for McCann were

  • Yvonne Barnes
  • Joe Gottemoller
  • John Jung
  • Jim Kearns
  • Don Kopsell
  • Mary McCann
  • Robert Nowak
  • Mike Skala
  • Larry Smith
  • Paula Yensen

All members are Republican but Yensen.

Protecting the McHenry County Board

Our McHenry County Board is important.

It is as important as the folks in the Courthouse, right?

At the Courthouse, they have Deputy Sheriff’s searching through visitors (read taxpayers) belongings in order to keep the judges, the Circuit Clerk, the Sheriff, the State’s Attorney and support staff safe from outside threats.

Private security forces make sure taxpaying citizens won't get into the Administrative Building on days when the McHenry County Board is meeting.

The County’s rivate security forces make sure taxpaying citizens won’t get into the Administrative Building with anything dangerous on days when the McHenry County Board is meeting.

Well, County Board members think they are as important as those elected officials and employees in the Courthouse, so on days the County Board meets everyone entering the building from the public doors are wanded and their bags given a look.

That was the first thing that happened in my journey to see the swearing in ceremony of the new County Board members.

On the way out of the building, the security had been withdrawn.

One could conclude that others in the Administration Building–the County Clerk, County Auditor, Regional Superintendent of Schools, the Record of Deeds, the Veterans Assistance folks, the Planning and Zoning Department employees, etc.–aren’t as important as the County Board members.

This did not occur because Jack Franks was being sworn in as County Board Chairman.

Flanked by his two security men, Jack Franks talks to about 100 at his Crystal Lake Town Hall Meeting.

Flanked by his two security men, Jack Franks talks to about 100 at his Crystal Lake Town Hall Meeting.

Those who attended his Town Hall Meetings might conclude that he had a hand in the increased secutiry, considering the presences of professional security people at them.

"It's good to be the king."

“It’s good to be the king.”

But this fear of the taxpaying public originated when Republicans held every seat on the County Board.

And I understand that occupants of the building will be treated just like those important people in the Courthouse once the Sheriff’s Department gets its new walk-through threat detectors.

Then, all entering the building from its front will be potential threats.

And, if you think I find the County Board members’ sense of self-importance exaggerated, you are correct.

But, I guess, as Mel Brooks put it,

“It’s good to be the King.”

Grafton Township Assessor Al Zielinski’s Re-Election Petition Challenged

That is what one would conclude from reading the following on the Grafton Township web site:

Notice of Public Hearing Grafton Township Electoral Board

Notice is hereby given that a Grafton Township Officers Electoral Board meeting will be held on Wednesday December 7, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. in the Conference Room at 10109 Vine Street Huntley, IL.

The Grafton Township Electoral Board shall hear and find a decision regarding objections to the nomination papers of Alan Zielinski as a candidate for the Republican Party to the office of Assessor for Grafton Township.

Tax Protest for Algonquin Township – Part 2

This is the second part of attorney Tim Dwyer’s tax protest suit against Algonquin Township:

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP AND ALGONQUIN ROAD DISTRICT – FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH PTELL [the Property Tax Cap]

Pleading in the alternative, Objectors assert that both the Township levy and the Road District levy were not adopted in accordance with the Truth-in-Taxation Act.

The Township and the Road District are governmental entities with the power to tax under the Illinois Constitution and the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

As entities with the power to levy and collect ad volerem taxes, the Township and the Road District are subject to the Township Code, the Highway Code, the Illinois Revenue Code and the Property Tax Limitation and Extension Act, as well as the common law which has evolved under the aforesaid statutes.

The Property Tax Limitation and Extension Act (PTELL”) provides, in relevant part:
Estimate of taxes to be levied. Not less than 20 days prior to the adoption of its aggregate levy, hereafter referred to as “levy”, the corporate authority of each taxing district shall determine the amounts of money, exclusive of any portion of that levy attributable to the cost of conducting an election required by the general election law, hereafter referred to as “election costs”, estimated to be necessary to be raised by taxation for that year upon the taxable property in its district.

35 ILCS 200/18-60.

Both the Township and the Road District are “taxing districts” as defined by PTELL.

As such, the corporate authority (the Township Board of Trustees) is mandated, at least 20 days prior to adopting its aggregate levy, to determine and otherwise declare the estimated amount of money to be raised by taxation for the a year upon the taxable property within the districts.

Both the Township as well as the Road District failed to estimate or otherwise notify the taxpayers of the estimated amount of funds necessary to be raised by taxing the property within the districts.

35 ILCS 200/18-60 makes it mandatory that the District estimate and inform the taxpayers of the necessary funds to be raised by ad volerem taxes.

Notwithstanding this mandate, both certificates issued by the Township and Road District purport that the “notice and hearing requirements of Section 18-60 through 18-85 for the Truth in Taxation law are not applicable”. See Group Exhibit A-1, attached by reference.

Because this legal conclusion remains erroneous as a matter of law, both levies issued by the Township remain invalid and void.

The specific requirements of the Truth-in-Taxation Act must be strictly completed with, and failure to do so will cause a levy to be invalid. In Re County Collector, 279 Ill.App.3d 641, 593 N.E.2d 1134 (3rd Dist. 1992).

Accordingly, the levy of .085052 issued by the Township and the levy of .191271 issued by the Township on behalf of the Road District should be rebated to those affected taxpayers, with statutory interest, as delineated within Exhibit B herein.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Tax Protestors pray that this Court consider the matters raised herein, find, determine and otherwise adjudicate that the entire levies adopted by Algonquin Township and the Algonquin Road District are illegal, void and excessive as a matter of law, order that the McHenry County Treasurer issue payments to the Tax Objector Plaintiffs of the entire amount taxed upon the Objectors by said Districts, and issue whatever further relief this Court deems just and equitable.

Gasser Holds Property Tax Forum – Miller Announces 10 Percent Cut

Andrew Gasser held is Property Tax State of Emergency Tax Forum last Friday to an overflow crowd at Panera Bread in Fox River Grove.

The room filled up quickly and at points during the meeting the group overflowed outside of the room.  

Gasser had a prepared power point presentation in which he lead a guided discussion over how property taxes work in Illinois.

The room was filled to capacity and spilled out into the hallway.

The room was filled to capacity and spilled out into the hallway.

The town hall had people attending from Fox River Grove, Cary, Crystal Lake, and Barrington Hills.  

In addition to topics and problems faced by new board members and trustees, other topics covered were Effective Tax Rate (ETR), Estimated Assessed Value (EAV), and where you could look up your tax bill online.

The tax bill from the Property Tax State of Emergency forum.

The tax bill from the Property Tax State of Emergency forum.

There were several other elected officials in attendance:

  • Bob Miller – Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner
  • Larry Emery – Algonquin Township Trustee
  • Scott Coffey – Cary School Board
  • Jennifer Curtis – Village of Fox River Grove Trustee
Bob Miller discussing taxes at Andrew Gasser's property tax forum.

Bob Miller discussing taxes at Andrew Gasser’s property tax forum.

While Gasser did not discuss his campaign for Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller did make an announcement that he would be cutting his levy by 10 percent in 2017 and 2018 to a round of applause.  

One person did ask Miller why he was cutting taxes now; however, the answer was not clear cut.

Andrew Gasser discussing McHenry County's high property taxes.

Andrew Gasser discussing McHenry County’s high property taxes.

At the end of the meeting Gasser did remind the audience that McHenry County pays the 29th highest property taxes in the United States.  

He then “climbed on his soap box” and told people to “control what they could control”.

“You cannot control what happens in Washington DC, Springfield, or even Chicago… but you can control who you vote for when it comes to local elections,” Gasser said.

Specifically, he talked about holding local elected officials accountable for their votes and spending habits and encouraged all to start attending meetings that they were passionate about.  

Gasser did not say if he would have another meeting but after the success of this meeting it would make sense if he continued to do this about Algonquin Township and McHenry County.

Jeff Thorsen Most Likely Headed for County Board Vice Chairmanship

Jeff Thorsen

Jeff Thorsen

Newly-elected McHenry County Board member Jeff Thorsen seems headed to be elected the Vice Chairman of the County Board.

Thorsen, who was appointed to replace Ken Koehler when Koehler was appointed to the Metra Board, is a former long-time Crystal Lake City Councilman.

On the City Council Thorsen was known for voting against hiking the city sales tax by 75% and defending the lake’s watershed, especially when McHenry County College sought special permission to build upon it.

The office of Vice Chairman carries few duties, except to serve as Chairman when the Chairman secures himself votes or is otherwide indesposed.

Thorsen could, however, become the Republican counterpoint to Democrat Chairman Jack Franks.

Jack Franks’ Big Day

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

State Rep. Jack Franks takes the Chair at the McHenry County Board meeting starting at 9 Monday morning.

According to the Northwest Herald, Franks will not resign from his State Rep. post until his term expires in January, meaning he will get pay checks from both state and county government for December.

Franks beat Republican candidate Mike Walkup by 58% to 42%.

= = = = =
This will be the biggest show in McHenry County, so, if you are free, drive to Woodstock and watch the action. The meeting will be in the County Board room, which is located in the Administrative Center north of the County Jail.

Nunda Township Assessor Files Challenge to Opponent’s Running

Nunda Township Assessor Mark Dzemske, appointed to replace Dennis Jagla, his predecessor, under whom he served many years, has filed a challenge to the election papers of his opponent, Justin Franzke.

The gist of the complaint is that Franzke does not profess the required professional certifications to hold the office.

Serwatka Urges Lakewood Residents Not to Sign Other Petitions

Here’s an email from Lakewood Village Trustee and candidate for Village President Paul Serwatka.

It appears to be a pre-emptive stike about some attack he expects to undergo during the campaign.

Words of Warning!

Although I am well aware, I want to be sure all of you are, as well…

I have received numerous calls from residents warning me that President Erin Smith along with Trustee Ken Santowski and other current and former board members & administration are launching an all-out, multi-faceted campaign against me, personally, as well as against the entire “Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team” campaign!

I have full faith that you will all see through all of their concerted, deceptive and malicious efforts.

Word of Warning #1

I am writing today, with information that has been provided to me, by several residents, in the last few days – as well as information that was provided publicly – directly by Ken Santowski, himself.

President Smith, Ken Santowski and the others have now enlisted the help of FORMER VILLAGE TRUSTEE and Turnberry resident, JOHN SCHRAUF in their effort to end the Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team campaign.

John Schrauf has begun circulating a petition to run to, once again, hold a seat as a village trustee. His reason for doing this is two-fold.

(These are John Schrauf’s words as reported by several residents)

According to John, himself, their primary reason for his candidacy is that signing John’s (and Ken’s) petition puts our team at risk of being “kicked off the ballot” on a technicality – and therefore we will no longer be a threat to the powers-that-be.

They know, that if the Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team remains on the ballot this April 4th, WE WILL WIN, OVERWHELMINGLY, and their house-of-cards will come crashing down!

Their second reason for John Schrauf’s candidacy, again as expressed by John himself, is that if I am elected to be president, and he can retain at least one village trustee seat for the status-quo, he can help to “dilute the vote, by voting against me and any Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team members.”

I don’t know John very well. I can’t say that I have any knowledge of his actions as a former village trustee.

What I do know about John, is this:

1 – Based on a very recent conversation with President Erin Smith, John Schrauf was strongly encouraged, by President Smith, to run to once again, be a village trustee.

2 – John Schrauf did NOT support our recent Property Tax Referendum!

John refused to even sign our petition to get our Property Tax Referendum on the ballot.

I spoke at length with John regarding our Property Tax Referendum and John maintained, just as President Smith and Trustee Ken Santowski, that residents should NOT have the power to control the taxes they pay.

John Schrauf maintained that “residents elect village board members to make those decisions for them.” John maintained that if village board members feel it’s necessary to raise property taxes and build a new village hall, then “they rightfully have the power to do so.”

I, along with The Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team, am diametrically opposed to this way of thinking!

If you stand with the Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team and our views toward restoring accountable government in Lakewood…

If you believe there is a need to put an end to the business-as-usual/status quo politics that have been in control of Lakewood Tax-Dollars and Lakewood residents for the last decade or more…

If you believe there is a need for a team that is 100% committed to protecting and serving YOU and YOUR tax-dollars…

I urge you NOT to sign John Schrauf’s petition!

Furthermore, to avoid jeopardizing our efforts by getting kicked off the ballot on a technicality, I would encourage you NOT to sign any petition other than The Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team petition.

The Entire Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team effort only works as an entire TEAM!

It really is an “All-or-None” deal!

Electing me as village president, without the support of trustees dedicated to bringing real reform and restoring accountability, renders me, essentially powerless.

Conversely, Electing Ken Santowski to conduct “business-as-usual” as President – even with good trustees in office – still allows critical information to be hidden from the board, allows the board agenda to be manipulated, and greatly hampers the ability for good, dedicated trustees to enact the much needed reform!

To truly restore accountability… to bring the real reform we so desperately need… requires the election of the entire Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team!

Please, Do NOT sign any other petitions!

Word of Warning #2

Ken Santowski has already begun his “Smear-Campaign” by distributing a packet of information about me – information that he absolutely knows to be completely false!

Ken recently made it publicly known that he, along with President Smith and other current and former board members & administration will be disseminating this false information by various methods throughout our campaign.

Ken and I have spoken at length about the fact that he knows this information to be false. His last, most recent, words to me were:

“It doesn’t matter what I know – what matters, is what you can prove.”

That being said, I assure you, I can, and indeed will, prove everything – at the right time.

I promise you, I will talk about this, in more detail, at the right time. But, for now, it is critical that you bear in mind:

– Ken Santowski (and all the others) NEED to distract you from the REAL ISSUES!

– Ken Santowski (and all the others) NEED to make this campaign about ANYTHING other than Village Business, such as:

– The positions he/they have taken and the votes he/they cast on a myriad of issues
– The hundreds of thousands of YOUR tax-dollars that he/they have wasted
– The information he/they have INTENTIONALLY hidden from you
– The unfathomable risk he/they have knowingly put all of us in

——
The only way the “Powers-that-be” can maintain their grip on our our village government and our tax-dollars is to get us to turn against each other. They need to pose distractions and create false demons so that we are talking about anything other than them!

I know we are all wiser than that…

I know we are all fed up with this kind of bad government…

and, I know we will “show them all the door” on April 4th!

This April 4th, we will liberate Lakewood!

If you haven’t already, Please learn more about The Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team Mission at www.LakewoodTaxFighter.com!

CL Kiwanis Santa Run Misses Snow Storm

Before the 2016 Santa Run the day was gloomy, but there was not much participation.

Before the 2016 Santa Run the day was gloomy, but there was not much participation.

Last night the predictions were that there would be an inch of snow on the ground for the 9 AM Crystal Lake Kiwanis Santa Run.

sant-2016-race-over

When the race was complete, the ground was wet, but the snow had not covered the streets.

As it turned out the big flakes didn’t start falling until after the race and most of the outdoor cleanup was completed.

This is how the beginning of the race course looked at noon on Sunday.

This is how the beginning of the race course looked at noon–about two hours after the end of the Santa Run.

But, then the snowflakes came.

The wind was a bit to strong for the blow-up Santa to stand on the west side of the street.

The wind was a bit to strong for the blow-up Santa to stand on the west side of the street.

The precipitation was too late to bother the runners, however.

Those who paid early went in the southern room of the Raue Center.

Those who paid early went in the southern room of the Raue Center.

People gathered to sign up.

Those paying the day of the race went to the north room of the Raue Center. That's also were tee shirts were being sold.

Those paying the day of the race went to the north room of the Raue Center. That’s also were tee shirts were being sold.

Before the starting gun was fired, the Crystal Lake Choir entertained those at the Raue Center.

Besides singing Christmas carols inside, the Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner before the race began.

Besides singing Christmas carols inside, the Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner before the race began.

And people gathered inside to avoid the 30-some degree weather.

The moist, cold air was chilling enough to send most inside to warm up before the race.

The moist, cold air was chilling enough to send most inside to warm up before the race.

And organizers relocated Santa to a place where he couldn’t blow away.

Santa was wedged next to the STAR 105 broadcasting trailer. Here a radio employee unsuccessfully attempts to keep blog-up Santa's right hand from covering her company's logo.

Santa was wedged next to the STAR 105 broadcasting trailer. Here a radio employee unsuccessfully attempts to keep blog-up Santa’s right hand from covering her company’s logo. As soon as the brace was removed, Santa’s arm went back down.

People lined up near the starting line as race time approached.

Ready to run.

Ready to run.

And, then, the gun sounded.

My first shot was out of focus, but here's one of the start of the race.

My first shot was out of focus, but here’s one of the start of the race.

The number of runners and walkers is not known at this time, but numbers on people ran over 1,000.

People behind the ones in the photo above.

People behind the ones in the photo above.

People over 70 were in the race, as were those under ten.

Northern Illinois Girls on the Run is one of the beneficiaries of the Santa Run proceeds.

Northern Illinois Girls on the Run is one of the beneficiaries of the Santa Run proceeds.

Next came the walkers.

Those walking lined up for that race's kick-off.

Those walking lined up for that race’s kick-off.  (Note blow-up Santa’s hand over the “R” of STAR 105’s logo.

The race does not take all that long for the fastest runners to complete.

Here's one of the earliest finishers. Note that he has passed the police vehicle which led the runners.

Here’s one of the earliest finishers. Note that he has passed the police vehicle which led the runners.  The man in the foreground handed out ribbons to everyone.

The runners kept crossing the finishing line, but my volunteer duties took me elsewhere.

Another man who finished among the first.

Another man who finished among the first.

Families ran together.

This son beat his Dad in the race.

This son beat his Dad in the race.

By the end of the race, snow flakes had begun to fall.

Ths man got his ribbon as snow began to descend from the sky.

Ths man got his ribbon as snow began to descend from the sky.

So, what was I doing?

A number of people want their race times.

The snow was falling as the race results were being printed out.

The snow was falling as the race results were being printed out.

I got to punch in their numbers so a machine could print out that data.

After the race was over, an awards ceremony was held in the warmth of the Raue Center’s auditorium.

Top finishers in each age category and race were honored after the Kiwanis Santa Run.

Top finishers in each age category and race were honored after the Kiwanis Santa Run.

Afterwards, Santa was found to be prostrate again.

Kiwanis Santa Run spark plug Mike Splitt administered first aid to the downed Santa before packing him away for another year.

Kiwanis Santa Run spark plug Mike Splitt administered first aid to the downed Santa before packing him away for another year.

This time covered in a bit of snow.

Santa Run occurs the first Sunday of every December.

This is its fifth year.

Tax Protest for Algonquin Township – Part 1

Here is part of what attorney Tim Dwyer says that Algonquin Township did wrong in levying its taxes last year:

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP AND ALGONQUIN ROAD DISTRICT – EXCESSIVE ACCUMULATION

Algonquin Township is a municipal entity formed under the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

As an entity with the power to levy and collect ad volerem taxes, Algonquin Township is subject to the Illinois Revenue Code, the Property Tax Limitation and Extension Act, as well as the common law which has evolved under the aforesaid statutes.

While taxing officials are permitted a reasonable latitude in the accumulation of public funds to assure having funds on hand to meet legitimate expenditures as they occur, this discretion must not be abused.

No statutory authority exists for large accumulations to provide for possible emergencies, which may or may not occur, since emergencies engendered by unforeseen circumstances are amply provided for in the statute, and may not be anticipated, as no resource is ample to meet every emergency which could possibly occur.

If discretion can be abused, there must exist a yardstick by which discretion can be measured, and the Illinois Supreme Court, in the case of People ex rel. Leaf v. Roth, 389 Ill. 287, 59 N.E.2d 643 (Ill. 1945) approved a formula of average actual expenditures “as established by recent prior experience”, using the actual expenditure of the three preceding years as a basis for determining the estimated expenditures for the ensuing year, in the absence of specific predetermined requirements which supplant mere conjecture and judgment of taxing authorities.

The Illinois Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a tax levy can be made for the requirements for the ensuing year only, and may not be made to create a fund for possible future needs. C.C.C. & St. L. Ry. Co., v. People ex rel. Selby, 208 Ill. 9, 69 N.E. 832 (Ill. 1904).

Both the Township and the Road Districts’s levies are void due to excessive accumulation.

In December 2015, Algonquin Township adopted its Tax Levy Ordinance.

The Township levy was for $1,800,380.00.

The Road District levy was for $4,048,990.00.

The Board of Trustees of Algonquin Township vote and authorize the levy for both the Township, as well as the Road District.

Although the Township and the Township Road District are separate entities for purposes of its tax levy, the Township audit incorporates both entities.

After Algonquin Township and the Algonquin Road District issued its levies in December of 2014, the last audit for both entities found that at the end of the 2015 fiscal year, the Township had $12,372,901 in cash and investments.

Prior to issuing its 2015 levies, the Township and the Township Road District had a three year average annual expenditure of $4,450,565, according to its own internal audits.

As of its last fiscal year or March 31, 2014, the Township and the Road District had cash assets of $11,711,225, according to its 2013-14 comprehensive audit.

From fiscal year 2014 to 2015, the Township added $661,679 in cash assets.

The assets on hand, coupled with the tax revenue from its previous levy, puts the Township and the Road District having in excess of 16 million dollars, or three times the available funds for that which is necessary for its annual expenses.

Spending $4,450,565 per year, the Township and the Road District had ample funds in order to meet their respective annual expenses without even imposing a levy.

According to its own audit, the Township, collectively, had investments of $4,351,604, which was almost as much as its three year annual expenditures.

This remains a violation of Illinois law, rendering both levies as excessive, invalid and illegal.

Accordingly, the Township levy rate of .085052 and the Road District levy rate of .191271 are illegal and should be rebated to the Objectors.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Tax Objectors, pray that the Court consider the matters raised herein, find, determine and otherwise adjudicate the entire levies issued by Algonquin Township and the Algonquin Road District are illegal as a matter of law, order that the McHenry County Treasurer issue payments to the Tax Objector Plaintiffs of the entire amount levied upon the Objectors by said districts, and issue whatever further relief this Court deems just and equitable.

Franks Seeks to Impose Springfield Lack of Accountability on McHenry County Board

In Jack Franks’ email to incoming members of the McHenry County Board, he floated an idea straight from Springfield.

Here it is:

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

“We will add flexibility to the committee process so that any member may sit on any committee in order to ensure a quorum, to do the people’s business and to provide cross-training to all members so they will be more fully versed on all aspects of County business.”

What does that mean?

Well, in Springfield it is a way for House Speaker Mike Madigan to take Democrats off committees during which they may be asked to vote or against a measure which would hurt them back home.

In short, it is a way for the Madigan to make sure a bill gets out of committee or doesn’t get out of committee.

The Republican House Leader has the same privilege.

I’m pretty sure that Franks is not suggesting that he be able to replace Paula Yensen with another Democrat, because she is the only one who got elected to the County Board.

So, I guess that means that Franks wants to be able to replace Republicans with other more Republicans more compliant with his wishes on a measure.

D200 Considering Closing Three Grade Schools, Putting Woodstock North High School Students in Old Woodstock High, 5% Tax Savings Envisioned

usan Handlesman fills readers in on Woodstock School District 200 Facilities Committee recommendations:

D200 Facility Review Committee (physical building review)

Recommendations of our committee:

Close

  • Clay Academy
  • Dean Street School
  • Northwoods School

and consolidate those students into remaining elementary and middle school buildings.

Students at Woodstock North High School would be transferred to Woodstock High School.

Students at Woodstock North High School would be transferred to Woodstock High School.

Consolidate Woodstock North High School students into Woodstock High School, keep WNHS building open as a tech campus.

Close rented administration offices and sell additional building across the street housing administration offices, and move admin to WNHS or other school building.

These actions are expected to generate about $3 million annual savings, which is roughly 5% of current levy.

Furthermore, there will be around $6 million in capital savings, as Clay Academy, Dean Street, and Northwoods “need” roughly $2 million each in building improvements.

The recommendations are based upon the ongoing enrollment severely below enrollment capacity at many D200 schools.

When three new school buildings were built nine years ago, new enrollment capacity for 3,300 students was created.

There has been no growth in enrollment.

The recommended consolidations would remove 1,600 enrollment capacity out of that additional 3,300, leaving 1,700 capacity for enrollment growth.

Superintendent Michael Moan indicated that the school district projected no foreseeable future enrollment growth, rather that enrollment would decline.

He was asked what he thought should be done and he stated that he would not back recommendations which would harm students academically, and that these consolidations would not harm students academically.

He said something had to be done to lower property taxes.

Woodstock property tax rate is 4.6% of home’s fair market value.

The next meeting will be January 12th.

The recommendation of the facility review committee focusing on buildings will be presented to other two committees at that time.

There will then be discussion (arguments), and the consensus recommendation will be presented to the school board.

The board is expected to hold public hearings before reaching a decision.

McHenry’s Abel Aguirre Arrested in Itasca for Stealing Over $1 Million from Itasca Company

Abel Aquirre

Abel Aquirre

The Daily Herald is reporting that Abel Aquirre of McHenry has been arrested for stealing more than $1 million from Fellowes Inc. of Itasca.

Over a six-year period, from 2008-2014, he diverted money to his Global Commerce Group Inc., which he used as a middleman for purchasing purposes.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin stated,

“If these allegations are proven true, Abel Aguirre used the trust placed in him by his former employer to line his own pockets to the tune of approximately $2 million.

“White-collar crime is not a victimless crime. The effects of the theft can cause severe strain on the business and in turn cause employees to suffer or lose their jobs.”

Comparing McHenry County Board Agendas

Below are two agendas for McHenry County Board meetings.

The first is from November 15th, when a majority of the Board voted to raise taxes about $3 million.

mch-co-bd-agenda-11-15-16-p1

It was prepared by County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller.

The second agenda is for the meeting at which Jack Franks will chair his first meetng.  Since he has not been sworn in by 2:10 Friday afternoon, as far as anyone knows, this agenda was also presumeably prepared by Gottemoller.

mch-co-bd-agenda-12-5-16

On the second page of the short agenda appears “Executive Session” and “Adjournment.”

There is a time noted for swearing in the new Board members, but none for swearing in the new Chairman.

Perhaps that means that Franks had a private swearing in ceremony.

Note that “Adopting the Agenda” found on the November Agenda is missing from Monday’s Agenda.

Is this a signal from Franks through Gottemoller that the County Board under Franks will not be able to amend its Agenda?

Further down something new to McHenry County, but which occurs when the Illinois House of Representatives is organized.

It reads,

“CREATION OF TEMPORARY RULES COMMITTEE”

In Springfield, the Democrats always move to make the last session’s rules the Temporary Rules.

Nowhere on this agenda is there an item indicating actual adoption of the County Board Rules.

I guess the County Board could replace the “Creation” agenda with one saying, “Adoption,” if amending the agenda is a goal of the members.

As one can see from the Agenda, the meeting starts at 9 AM on Monday.  It will be in the Administrative Center, which is located north of the County Jail.

Skillicorn Files First Bills, Both Focused on Real Estate Taxes

A press release from State Rep.-Elect Allen Skillicorn:

Property Tax Deadline Inspires First Bills From Representative-Elect Allen Skillicorn

Friday December 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve is the last day homeowners in Algonquin Township (parts of Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary, Barrington Hills, and Fox River Grove) have to appeal their property tax assessments.

McHenry County and Algonquin Township have some of the highest property taxes in nation.

State Representative-Elect Allen Skillicorn won’t be sworn in until January, but Skillicorn has already filed his first two bills this week to address out of control property taxes and allow homeowners more time to appeal them.

Allen Skillicorn’s first bill will require municipalities to have a public hearing when raising property tax rates.

Currently Illinois’ tax cap law has a loop hole that only requires municipalities to have a “Truth in Taxation” hearing if the levy is increased by more than 5%, but no hearing is required if they increase the tax rate.

Allen Skillicorn

Allen Skillicorn

“Illinois’ tax cap law has too many loopholes. One that hits homeowners in McHenry and Kane Counties the hardest is when the tax rate goes up when our home values stagnate.

“It was wrong when our home values plummeted in 2009-2012, but our property taxes keep going up.” Skillicorn continued,

“Even today, we have not seen huge increases in home values, but our property tax bills consistently go higher every year.

“I’ve always advocated for doing more with less.

“Let’s provide high quality services at the lowest cost.

“The residents deserve to hear how these property tax hikes will affect their bottom line before politicians vote to hike taxes.”

Skillicorn’s 2nd bill filed extends the property tax assessment appeal deadline another 30 days, to a full 60 days.

This allows homeowners, who are usually filing appeals without the help of professional attorneys, more time to get a fair value of their homes.

“Property taxes are too high and Algonquin Township residents are required to file appeals one day before Christmas Eve.

“That’s wrong, homeowners cannot afford to pay a professional to file on their behalf like a big corporation would.

“The holiday season is already busy enough.

“Local officials should not take advantage of the Holiday and slip the deadline in just before Christmas.

“I hope to change this type of practice by giving homeowners more time to complete their appeal paperwork.”

Instructions and links to help Algonquin Township residents file an appeal before the December 23rd deadline are located at http://www.allenskillicorn.com/4866/algonquindeadline/

McConnauhay Bill Providing State ID to Released Prisoners Sent to Governor

A press release from State Senator Karen McConnaughay:

McConnaughay proposal to reduce recidivism heads to Governor

Measure represents key recommendation of Governor’s criminal justice reform commission

SPRINGFIELD — A bipartisan criminal justice reform measure sponsored by State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) is headed to the Governor’s desk that would reduce recidivism by providing former low-level offenders with a state identification card upon release.

Karen McConnaughay.

Karen McConnaughay.

“We want offenders to leave our facilities prepared to rejoin society and start down a new path,” said McConnaughay.

“However, while a valid form of identification is incredibly important to secure employment, get approved for a leases or even sign up for a cell phone, many former inmates leave the state’s correctional facilities without any proper form of identification. Senate Bill 3368 is a commonsense proposal that offers former inmates a smoother transition into their new life and a better opportunity to succeed.”

The legislation was one of the recommendations made by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform (ISCCJSR) as part of Governor Bruce Rauner’s effort to reduce the state’s current prison population by 25 percent by 2025. A member of the commission, McConnaughay worked alongside Governor Rauner and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to identify practical ways to reduce state imprisonment and recidivism rates, as well as preserve public safety.

“I applaud the Governor for leading this effort. The simple act of giving these men and women a state ID will make a significant difference in the lives of our former offenders who are seeking a fresh start,” said McConnaughay.

The Senate bill requires the Secretary of State to issue a standard Illinois ID card, at the time of their release, to any person being released from the DOC or DJJ who present their birth certificate, social security card, or other documents authorized by the Secretary, and two proofs of address. For individuals without these documents, the Secretary of State will issue a limited-term, 90-day ID to released individuals who present a verified document from DOC/DJJ with their name, birth date, social security number, and proof of address. They then have 90 days to present this ID at the Secretary of State to receive a standard issue ID.

Senate Bill 3368 passed the senate unanimously and now heads to the Governor, who is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Catching Up on Jack Franks’ (Out of County) Contributions

Bottles of water with Lying Jack Franks Cut 10 sticker affixed.

Bottles of water with Lying Jack Franks Cut 10 sticker affixed.

Occupied by other stories toward the end of the General Election season, McHenry County Blog fell behind in reporting big ($1,000 or more) contributions to State Rep. and Countty Board Chairman candidate Jack Franks.

Below is what was reported since October 8th.

Usually these are show in descending order. Today, they will be shown in the order of giving.

Maybe you can find one from McHenry  County, but I can’t.

    • 10-17 $5,400 – Fred Eychaner, Chairman, Newsweb Corporation, Chicago
    • 10-17 $5,400 – John Simmons, Attorney, Simons Hanly Conroy, Edwardsville
    • 10-17 $10,800 – Newsweb Corporation, Chicago
    • 10-17 $5,400 – Mary Kathryn Pritzker, Homemaker, Chicago
    • 10-17 $5,400 – JB Pritzker, Pritzker Group, Owner, Chicago
    • 10-17 $10,800, Pritzker Group, Chicago
    • 10-17 $5,000 – Friends of Dart, Chicago
    • 10-18 $2,000 – Lester Crown, Investment Broker, Henry Crown and Company, Chicago
    • 10-18 $1,000 – Citizens for Viverito, Burbank
    • 10-17 $2,500 – Arthur & Kathleen Daniels, Bannockburn
    • 10-19 $2,500 – Heather Steans, State Senator, Chicago
    • 10-20 $10,000 – Illinois Political Action Comm for Education, Springfield
    • 10-20 $1,000 – Heartland Solutions Group Inc, Lake Barrington
    • 10-20 $2,000 – Prairie Political Action Committee, Springfield
    • 10-20 $1,000 – Raj Fernando, CEO, Chopper Training,
    • 10-20 $1,000 – Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, Waukegan
    • 10-20 $2,000 – Todd A. Smith, Chicago
    • 10-21 $22,000 – Illinois Voter Education Project, Chicago
    • 10-24 $1,325.39 – Realtor Political Action Committee, Springfield, Mailing

realtor-franks-republican-mailing

  • 10-24 $1,000 – Illinois Laborers’ Legislative Comm, Springfield
  • 10-24 $1,000 – Illinois BANKPAC, Springfield
  • 10-24 $1,000 – IUOE Local 399 Political Education Fund, Chicago
  • 10-26 $1,000 – Wight & Company, Darien
  • 10-28 $3,000 – IBEW Illinois PAC, Washington, DC
  • 11-01 $25,000 – Local 150 Illinois Union of Operating Engineers, Countryside
  • 11-02 $1,000 – Citizens for Gregory Harris, Chicago
  • 11-02 $2,500 – Teamsters Local 705 PAC B, Chicago
  • 11-02 $4,000 – Realtor Political Action Committee, Springfield
  • 11-02 $2,500 – AFSCME Illinois Council No. 31, Springfield
  • 11-03 $1,000 – Committee to Elect Jay Hoffman, Belleville
  • 11-07 $1,000 – Storino Ramello & Durkin, Rosemont
  • 11-07 $5,000 – SEIU Local 73 B-PAC, Chicago
  • 11-07 $5,000 – SEIU Healthcare IL IN PAC, Chicago
  • 11-07 $5,000 – ComEd PAC, Chicago

Election Day

  • 11-09 $1,000 – Bruce & Mary Watson, Belvidere
  • 11-10 $1,000 – Friends of Jerry Costello 11, Smithton
  • 11-10 $1,000 – Costello For Congress, Belleville
  • 11-18 $5,218.10 – Personal PAC, Chicago, Voter ID Calling [Personal PAC did not endorse Franks.]
  • 11-18 $4,300 – 42nd Ward Democratic Org, Chicago, Phone bank [Alderman and Democratic Party Committeeman Brendan Reilly]
  • 11-18 $9,351.50 – 42nd Ward Democratic Org, Chicago, Phone bank

Statement of Candidacy Discrepancies Bring Early Drama to GOP Township Primaries

Elections have several phases.

First there is the intimidation phase.

When opponents or potential opponents hear that one is running for office, they enlist people whom they think can influence you to call or meet with you to convince you that running would be a bad idea.

After that comes the the petition challenge.

This year there are issues with Statements of Candidacy in all three townships holding a Republican Pimary Election on February 28th.

It seems that there was a problem.

McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan posted Statements of Candidacy, but some candidates had a poblem getting the correct one, assuming that it was even on her web iste.

Take Grafton Township Clerk candidate Dina Frigo.

Grafton Township Clerk candidate Dina Frigo's Statement of Candidacy.

Grafton Township Clerk candidate Dina Frigo’s Statement of Candidacy.

I searched the document for some place that Frigo said she was running in the Republican Party primary, but can’t find it.  The form does contain the date of the GOP Primary, so maybe that is good enough.

Frigo’s opponent is Kathleen Watson.

Her Statement of Candidacy is below:

Kathleen Watson's Statement of Candidacy

Kathleen Watson’s Statement of Candidacy

Watson’s form asks that her “name be placed upon the official Republican primary ballot for nomination/election for such office.”

Would a challenge knock Frigo off the ballot?

If some citizen filed a challenge, the Grafton Township Electoral Board would be convened.

It would consist of the Township Supervisor, the Township Clerk and the senior Township Trustee.

Any decision could be appealed to the McHenry County Circuit Clerk.

In Nunda Township the slate running with incumbent Township Supervisor Lee Jennings (Road Commissioner Mike Lesperance, Assessor candideate Justin Franzke, Clerk candidate Joni Smith, Trustee candidates Ed Dvorak, Karen Tynis, William Boltz and Debra Halth) all filed the form you see below:

Nunda Township Supervisor of Assessments Statement of Candidacy.

Nunda Township Supervisor of Assessments Statement of Candidacy.

It says they “have been selected to fill a vacancy in nomination for the office of ________.”

That clearly is not the case, because candidate selection is the role that the Republican Primary Election plays.

Compare Jennings’ Statement of Candidacy with that of opponent Mike Walkup, which is below:

Mike Walkup Statement of Candidacy.

Mike Walkup Statement of Candidacy.

Walkup’s form asks that his “name be placed upon the official Republican primary ballot for nomination/election for such office.”

Cate Williams filed on the same form as Walkup.

Asked to comment, Jennings emailed the following:

Regarding the statement of candidacy, yes, our slate has inadvertently used the incorrect form that was downloaded from the county clerk’s web page.

Both our County Clerk and the State Board of Elections have told us that this is not a fatal flaw as it contains the same pertinent information and would not prohibit us from being in the primary even if an objection is filed.

There has also already been some cases where this has gone to court and the objection failed.

I am hoping the other candidates will realize that this would be an expensive and unnecessary cost for the township to bear and would instead opt for a fair and open election process.

In Algonquin Township, Trustee candidate Rachael Lawrence looked at the Statements of Candidate and concluded the following:

The following candidates used incorrect forms:

Charles A. Lutzow (Supervisor)
Richard Alexander (Assessor)
Bob Miller (Hwy Comm.)
Melissa Sanchez-Fisher (Clerk)
Karen Lukasik (Clerk)
Dan Shea (Trustee)
David Chapman (Trustee)
Melissa L. Victor (Trustee)
Terence G. Ferenc (Trustee)

The only candidates who used the proper form were:

Ellen M. Brady (Supervisor)
Andrew Gasser (Hwy Comm.)
Myself, Rachael Lawrence (Trustee)
Scott Taillet (Trustee)
Russell Cardelli (Trustee)