In the center of McHenry County, the growth tip is Woodstock, the county seat.
There, local voters face the building of thousands of new residences and a huge school bond issue next year for the schools which the developers don’t finance.
The subdivisions were zoned after rampant growth opponents lost their temporary control of city council. After a spate of annexations of land for new subdivisions, people realized that neither the developers nor the new residents would pay for the required new schools.
About a year ago, the Woodstock school district asked the city council to impose “lag fees.” These fees require the payment of an equivalent of the property taxes that would have been paid had the home been on the tax rolls. None of the city council favored the proposal.
When one city councilmen, Brian Sager, decided to run for mayor, he started promoting the “lag fees,” which can only be imposed at the time of an annexation agreement. The switch in position camouflaged his previous pro-growth stance.
Playing into the fear of higher future taxes, Sager beat two-term Mayor Alan Cornue by a margin of 65%-35%. His two city council running mates also won.
Of course, the lag fees cannot be imposed on the already approved subdivisions.
Cornue, whose father was the McHenry County Supervisor of Assessments, is moving to Lake Geneva and Milwaukee.
In Part III, read what happened in Kane County.