Tryon Moves Conservation District Tax Hike Bill Out of Committee

On a 9-1 vote, McHenry County State Rep. Mike Tryon has moved Senate Bill 3341, the bill to allow the McHenry County Conservation District to borrow money without a referendum, from the House Revenue Committee.

That will, of course, lead to higher property tax bills as the new bonds are repaid.

The only opposition vote in committee was David McSweeney’s.  He also represents part of McHenry County.

In the Senate the bill was sponsored by two senators representing McHenry County–Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay.

Here’s a description of the bill:

Provides that a district located entirely within McHenry County may incur indebtedness for the development of real property, all or a portion of which has been acquired with referendum-approved bonds. Describes “development”. Sets forth a list of the types of bonds that do not limit a district from issuing non-referendum debt. Makes other changes.

The specific language follows:

7 (b-5) For the purpose of development of real property, all
8 or a portion of which has been acquired with
9 referendum-approved bonds, a district located entirely within
10 McHenry County may incur indebtedness and, as evidence of the
11 indebtedness thus created, may issue and sell bonds without
12 first obtaining the consent of the legal voters of the
13 district. Development, for the purposes of this subsection
14 (b-5), shall mean the improvement or maintenance of existing
15 trails, parking lots, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, and
16 other improvements, adding or improving access to conservation
17 areas or district facilities to comply with the Americans with
18 Disabilities Act, demolition of unnecessary or unsafe
19 structures, and the stabilization, revitalization or
20 rehabilitation of historic structures.

14 The following do not in any way limit the right of a
15 district to issue non-referendum bonds under this Section:
16 bonds heretofore or hereafter issued and outstanding that are
17 approved by referendum, as described in this subsection (d);
18 refunding bonds issued to refund or continue to refund bonds
19 approved by referendum; and bonds issued under this Section
20 that have been paid in full or for which provisions for payment
21 have been made by an irrevocable deposit of funds in an amount
22 sufficient to pay the principal and interest on those bonds to
23 their respective maturity date.

The bill now goes to the House floor, where it could be passed in time to raise next year’s property tax bills.

This is part of a two-bill package instigated by the McHenry County Conservation District.

Articles on this attempt to raise McHenry County real estate taxes:

The most recent article was from May.  It is below:

Tryon Sitting on Althoff’s MCCD Tax Hike Bills

Mike Tryon

Mike Tryon

Before the McHenry County Republican Party’s Convention last month, State Rep. Mike Tryon and I spent some time talking about the bills that State Senators Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay had passed unanimously sent to the House of Representatives.

After I told him my reservations, he asked me why I thought he had taken the bills with the intention of passing them.

Both bills are in subcommittees.

Bills sent to subcommittees have a tendency to stay there.

Now word has reached me from a reliable source that Tryon indeed has decided to let them stay in subcommittee.

I’m also informed that the Northwest Herald has been told by Tryon that the bills are dead.

A thank you from McHenry County taxpayers is in order.  Email him at

= = = = =
What this means is that the Conservation District’s attempted end run around the limits set by the Property Tax Cap, while successful in the State Senate, were not favored by those in the Illinois House.

End of story.

= = = = =

The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County have already sent out an email asking members to contact legislators in support of the bill. You can see the email below:

Member Action Alert
Please call your legislator today to help MCCD.

Back in 1971, Defenders’ members worked hard to help successfully establish the McHenry County Conservation District.  Since then MCCD has done a great job of protecting and managing some of the most fragile and scenic natural areas in our county for the benefit of all the species that live there and for the enjoyment of all the citizens of McHenry County.  Helping them continue with this all important work is one way we Defenders can help fulfill our mission of “building sound ecological relationships between people and the natural world that supports all life”.  MCCD needs our help now.  Here’s how you can help them.

Please read the summary below of Senate Bill 3341.  Then call your McHenry County legislators today to ask them to support SB3341!

SB3341 clarifies language about the bonds that the McHenry County Conservation District can issue.  Not being able to issue these bonds prevents MCCD from being able to fund repair of structures or maintenance of conservation properties.  This is an incredibly important local issue that is being decided at the state level.

Please make your voice heard in support of SB3341 by Wednesday, December 3 at noon by calling McHenry County legislators in their Springfield offices.  Legislators are in Springfield right now and this important bill will be heard in committee on Tuesday, December 2 at 10AM.  Your calls are needed over the next two days to make sure that McHenry County House members support this bill.

Please call your representative at the number below.  When a Staffer answers, just let them know that you would like your representative to support SB3341.  It will only take a couple minutes of your time.  If you need to look up your rep, look here.


  • Rep. Mike Tryon – Say thanks for sponsoring the bill – (217) 782-0432
  • Rep. Barb Wheeler – Say thanks for her support of the bill – (217) 782-1664
  • Rep. Jack Franks – Ask him to support the bill – (217) 782-1717
  • Rep. Dave McSweeney – Ask him to support the bill –

(217) 782-1517

Thanks for helping to protect our environment in McHenry County!


Amends the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 410)

The McHenry County Conservation District, located in NE Illinois, was established in 1971 for the purpose of preserving natural areas and historic/cultural sites, restoring wildlife habitat and providing trails, outdoor recreational facilities, and education programs for the general public to enjoy.

What the Proposed Amendment Does
SB 3341 make three (3) changes to the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 410) and pertains only to the McHenry County Conservation District:

  1. Corrects a stacking issue between referendum and non-referendum bonds when calculating the debt limit.
  2. Adds a refunded bonds piece so they do not count against the District’s debt limit (a refunded bond is a bond that is still outstanding, but the money to pay for it is held in an irrevocable fund for payment).
  3. Allows non-referendum bonds to be issued for development of real property for limited purposes and only on land acquired via voter-approved referendum.

The main purpose is to correct an unintended consequence that occurred when the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 410) was amended in 1989 to allow the McHenry County Conservation District to increase its maximum debt limit from .575% to 1.725% through voter approved referenda.  It clarifies that voter-approved bonds are excluded from its non-referendum debt limit.  As the non-referendum debt is paid down, the District should be allowed like other units of government to issue new non-referendum debt up to its statutory limit of .575% as allowed under PTELL.

Recently the District looked to finance its outstanding debt and became aware of this issue after receiving a legal opinion from bond counsel that the statute does not sufficiently distinguish voter approved bonds from those bonds issued subject to the District’s non-referendum debt authority.  While the District’s bond counsel took this view, other attorneys said while it was somewhat unclear, the District probably had the authority under the current statute, but should follow the opinion of bond counsel.  The current language as interpreted by bond counsel penalizes the District for asking its voters for the additional bonding.  Other conservation districts, park districts and units of local government already have similar statutory authority to what the amendment proposes.

The District is also asking to have the flexibility to issue non-referendum bonds for the development of real property, limited to the purposes outlined in the amendment, which include maintaining trails, parking lots, bridges, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance requirements, and structure demolition or stabilization as the case may be. One of the properties acquired by the District through voter-approved bonds, Camp Algonquin, was listed on Landmark Illinois’ Top Ten Most Endangered Places in Illinois on April 1, 2014 and is falling into disrepair and is at serious risk of being lost.  Conservation areas cannot be open to the public until unsafe structures are removed, modifications to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act for universal access are made, and funds to maintain the sites secured.

Contact Information
For information, contact Elizabeth S. Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District at 815.260.7206 .


Tryon Moves Conservation District Tax Hike Bill Out of Committee — 22 Comments

  1. Well, well.

    How convenient to wait until AFTER the elections to pull another dirty trick on the citizens of McHenry County.

    There needs to be a full cleaning out of these politicians who really don’t care about the people they represent.

  2. It is despicable to raise property taxes for frivolous pet projects in a county with tax rates well above 3% of home value, in western McHenry County above 4% of home value.

    The values of homes will never recover unless taxes are lowered, and the rulers are now raising taxes again.

    For what?

    For whose benefit?

    Shame on you, Tryon, Althoff, Wheeler.


    Justify your actions to those losing all value in their homes, with 4% property tax rates in a nation with 1.2% average property tax rates.

  3. Once again, Cal, you’ve published inaccurate information to toss red meat to your constituency. Passage of this bill WILL NOT necessarily lead to higher taxes.

    In fact, MCCD recently approved a refinancing of outstanding bonds which will save taxpayers millions.

    Please check your facts before you publsh.

    It’s the ethical thing to do.

  4. It is unethical to imply that borrowing more and spending more, with McHenry County homes as collateral, is anything but a tax hike.

    If they found gold on one of the conservation properties, should they go spend windfall money as they please and borrow more, rather than paying off indebtedness?

  5. Huh?

    Could you please explain how lowering the amount that is levied for debt service by refinancing is raising taxes.

  6. Dear Whackamole:

    Your statement is disingenuous.

    If the County sells more bonds, it WILL raise property taxes over what they would have been if they chose NOT to sell more bonds.

  7. The indebtedness is meant be paid off with the assets collateralized by the guarantors: we citizen homeowners of this county.

    If a windfall profit created by falling interest rates (no credit should be given to MCCD for that happy circumstance) allows a re-fi of the indebtedness, the “savings” should be the property of the guarantors (the taxpayers).

    To take that windfall money away from the guarantors raises taxes in that it is siphoning off from the present value of MCCD assets without any value transferred back to guarantors.

    The indebtedness remains the same, absent the value which was extracted.

    So taxes on a property set worth “X” before the siphoning of value are “raised” when taxpayers are on the hook owing the same dollar amount on a property with lower value.

  8. Whackamole You need to find a new hole!!

    Since 2008, the TAX RATE for MCCD has INCREASED 58.69 % while the County tax rate increased 56.26 %.

    Check your numbers before you make a statement like the one you made!

  9. Another number Whackamole may want to verify is that the County Assessment dropped almost 32 percent betweem ’08 and ’13.

    Homeowners lost equity!

    What did MCCD employees lose?

    They continue to get wage increases!!

  10. All the dollars that Whackamole says MCCD ‘saved’ the paxpayers were not returned to the taxpayer but used to purchase more equipment and fund the wage increases for the employees.

    Cal was not even close to publishing inaccurate information but Whackamole sure is!!

  11. Cautious, you’re confusing tax rate and actual dollars.

    Apples and Oranges.

    If the pie gets smaller and the piece stays the same size, the percentage of that piece in terms of the pie is larger.

    I was speaking in dollar terms.

    It’s disingenuous of you to change the units to rate.

  12. Cautious, bond and interest dollars are a separate levy from operating funds.

    Equipment and personnel expenses are not paid from the bond and interest fund.

  13. Ah once again the liberal “Republicans” show their support for the green sustainable liberal progressive groups like the McHenry County Defender and McHenry County Conservation.

    These liberal progressive groups have taken enough of our tax dollars!!

    Have you seen Glacial Park???

    the brick paver roads and the parking signs that designate special parking for low emission vehicles only.

    Give me a break.

    They have money for this waste, they have taken enough of our tax dollars!!


  14. whackmole, obviously you haven’t paid your fair share!

    Time to redistribute your wealth, you know those groups take donations, you better start donating, they have another road they want to pave with those expensive brick pavers.

    Maybe you have one of those sweetheart tax deals like Nick Chirios??? Hmmm…

  15. If old bonds are paid off, our tax bills will decrease.

    If new bonds are sold to replace those old bonds, our tax bills won’t decrease.

    If there is something wrong with my logic, please point it out.

  16. I just looked at the Official Statement (the offering document) for the Conservation District’s new refunding bonds. It can be found here:

    The par amounts of the new Refunding bonds are the same as for the old bonds being replaced.

    And the coupon (the annual interest rate) on the new bonds from 2018-2027 is 5.00%, which is just about the same as the coupon on the old bonds.

    Now, if the OLD bonds had a 5.00% coupon and the NEW bonds have a 5% coupon, and the par amounts are the same, where is the savings to the taxpayers?

    Now notice this: the new refunding bonds were sold at substantially lower yields than 5.00%. That means the price was well above 100 cents on the dollar. In fact, the underwriter paid $18.3 million MORE than the face value of the bonds.

    But ALL of the proceeds were either spent on costs of issuance or went into the escrow account.

    Again, where is the savings to the taxpayer resulting from this transaction? I don’t see any.

    I am wondering if more money was put into the escrow account than was needed to repay the old bonds, and if this money will flow back to the District for operating purposes.

    It would be worth an FOIA request.

  17. Cal, you’re right, but no one is proposing issuing new bonds here.

  18. The bill is about correcting an error in the original legislation regarding the ABILITY to issue bonds, not the actual issuance.

    The fact is that MCCD is at their issuance limit and will be for several more years.

  19. Whackamole needs to quit listening to what the MCCD is selling and actually read the language of the bill:

    Here is the description language of the bill: Amends the Conservation District Act. Provides that a district located entirely within McHenry County may incur indebtedness for the development of real property, all or a portion of which has been acquired with referendum-approved bonds. Describes “development”. Sets forth a list of the types of bonds that do not limit a district from issuing non-referendum debt. Makes other changes.

    Here is the pertinent change: Development, for the purposes of this subsection
    7 (b-5), shall mean the improvement or maintenance of existing
    8 trails, parking lots, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, and
    9 other improvements, adding or improving access to conservation
    10 areas or district facilities to comply with the Americans with
    11 Disabilities Act, demolition of unnecessary or unsafe
    12 structures, and the stabilization, revitalization or
    13 rehabilitation of historic structures.

    In other words taxes raised with this amendment will be allowed to be used for almost anything.

    Money currently being spent on the above named items will be used for other things like more salary increases and equipment.

    Why does MCCD have its own Police Force?

    Farm security out to the Sheriff!

  20. Before you next contribute to Environmental Defenders you may want to consider what you are really contributing to.

    Are they a lobby for higher taxes?

  21. There seems to be two issues.

    1. Current Bond Games.

    2. Future Bond Games.

    Willson describes the current bond game, which is a refunding game, and hopefully someone will follow through with a FOIA.

    Some school districts play the exact same bond refunding game.

    Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to refund bonds.

    It depends on the circumstances.

    Other times, it’s just a way for special interests (underwriters, etc.) to make money off the taxing district.

    Other times, it’s just a way for the taxing district to eventually extract extra dollars for it’s budget, instead of passing the refunding savings along to taxpayers.

    The future bond games would be the ability of the taxing district to extract additional dollars from taxpayers by issuing non-referendum bonds for new debt.

    As opposed to refunding / refinancing existing debt.

    It should be illegal for a taxing district to issue non-referendum bonds for new debt.

    It is not nice to take taxpayer money without taxpayer permission.

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