Connecting the Population Decline Dots

I didn't have a picture of a black hole in space, so this dark funnel my son spotted one morning in a Springfield hotel's hot tub will have to do for an illustration.

I didn’t have a picture of a black hole in space, so this dark funnel my son spotted one morning in a Springfield hotel’s hot tub will have to do for an illustration.

Its too early to suggest that the photo here represents the future of McHenry County, but with population being down in McHenry County since 2010, while being up in all the other Chicago-area counties, it could be that the County is beginning a downward spiral.

[I misread the Census data and have made corrections.]

From 2010 to 2014, the entire State of Illinois gained 43,918 people.

During that same period, McHenry County lost 1,543.

Not a good sign.

This is a county where municipal leaders have rarely tried to put the brakes on growth…even though growth results in higher property taxes.

New houses never pay their own way unless they are McMansions.

Evidence of the results of this lust for growth appeared in the Northwest Herald Friday.

A letter to the editor from Hebron’s James Lange tells of his town’s and Richmond’s having built new sewage treatment plants financed by loans from state government to prepare for growth.

Because that new growth did not come, Lange writes,

“We can’t pay off the loans without sky-high water rates.”

In addition, there was an article about the opening of the new Marengo sewage treatment plant.

Having attended the municipal candidates’ night two years ago, I know that those running for office really, really want their town to grow.

All were in favor of an interchange with the Tollway at Route 23, a subsidy for the engineering of which was passed by the McHenry County Board last week.

The NWH article not only chronicled unbelievably poor planning (attempting to build the plant on an old landfIll) a new sewage treatment plant that will be able to handle twice the volume as before, but also the fact that citizen water rates are being hiked to pay for its construction. (I’d link, but I can’t find it.)

With people exiting McHenry County, one can suggest without fear of contradiction that village and city mothers and fathers have been overly optimistic about growth.

Will there be a return to rapid growth?

Reader Susan Handlesman provides food for thought in comments that bemoan the incredible increase in bonded indebtedness of Woodstock School District 200.

Look at the tax implications for those living in the Woodstock area.

You can read her chain of logic below:

You all had better watch out for bond issue borrowings, or end up like Woodstock D200 (property tax JUST TO PAY D200 last year was 2.71% of total home value. Our total property tax rate is over 4% of home value).

Compare and Contrast Woodstock D200 debt burden to Crystal Lake D47+D155
According to Municipal Bond website

  • Cusip 580807 (CL D155) lists 4 bond issues 1990-2015
  • Cusip 5811000 (CL D47) lists 8 bond issues 1990-2010

Cusip 581158 (Woodstock D200) lists 47 bond (and/or derivative financial instrument) issues 1991-2015

(Every time there is a Bond issue, there are financial advisor and legal fees; +/- 1%to 2% of money raised. For example, most recent bond issue of D200: 3/16/2015, GENERAL OBLIGATION SCHOOL REFUNDING BONDS, SERIES 2015B borrowed $13,280,000 —cost of issuance (fees) $201,661. (1.5%)) .

Percentage of full property value obligated to School District debt:

  • Cusip 580807 (CL D155): 0.62%
  • Cusip 5811000 (CL D47): 0.29%
  • Cusip 581158 (Woodstock D200): 5.22%


The stated debt does not include accrued interest owed, and other debt.

Adding in accrued interest puts D200 debt at over 6.5% of total home values.


Cusip 581158 (Woodstock D200):

Exhibit D in Reconciliation of Balance Sheet on Official Statement of most recent Bond Issue of 3/16/2015 states Long-term debt obligations (including unamortized bond premium, and accrued interest on long-term debt) as $148,623,930.

Revising the officially stated (principal only) debt of $118,436,940 to $148,623,930 and dividing by the reported $2,274,804,189 Estimated Full Market Valuation 2013 (District property value) indicates that Woodstock D200 Property taxpayers owe 6.53% of property value to Woodstock D200 current pledged debt. (Statutory debt limits are meant to cap debt at 1/3 of 13.8% (4.6%) of total property value).

One example of accrued interest debt which is owed to date BUT NOT INCLUDED IN FIGURES USED TO


In 2006, D200 borrowed less than $14 million on a Capital Appreciation Bond at 8.5%. After 9 years of accrued (as yet unpaid) compounding interest, the interest alone on this debt will be more than $15 million dollars now.

In 11 more years this bond is due for payment, and total interest owed will be $50 million, in addition to the $14 million principal also owed–so, $64 million to pay back a less-than-20-year $14 million loan.

So be vigilant of your District’s borrowings, and the terms of the bond deals, or you will end up paying over 4% property taxes too.


Connecting the Population Decline Dots — 12 Comments

  1. Anyone know how many landscape companies have ceased to exist in McHenry County after the Housing crisis peaked?

    The County population is dropping but the County Manager has the audacity to propose we increase the salaries for elected officials!

    He needs to go!

    He managed the County to have one of the highest property tax rates in the Country!

    Ask anyone with children if they could sell their house for what they paid, would they leave because our schools produce one of the worst products in the State?

    Many already have.

    Unless we can produce some outstanding conservatives to run for the school and County Boards, our decline will continue.

    We thought a breath of fresh air would accompany Mr. Wheeler but he has been a total disappointment.

  2. So sick of elected officials suggesting they deserve pay increase.

    I can’t wait to move out of McHenry county.

    Nothing to show for the property taxes we pay here.

  3. McHenry County is mostly run by so called conservative Republicans but they are power hungry.

    McHenry built subdivisions on land that was originally zoned to be business by the county so they could get “home rule”.

    They built the Riverwalk to revitalize downtown and now the downtown is not as vibrant as it was before they started this.

    They built Liberty Trails and Lincoln Hills subdivisions and instead of making an overall plan for the area from the bridge to Chapel Hill they plan for individual developments and everything is disjointed.

    Property taxes are outrageous in McHenry County.

    I have an old house and some land that is basically a farmette but they raised the taxes so much on the land when they developed even though we have no one in school.

    People want to pay their fair share of taxes but our past assessor used to lower vacant business taxes before they requested it and I have not heard of her lowering a homeowners taxes before they file and appeal and go through a process.

    Property taxes, Jefferson said, are the most unfair tax because you can never own your home.

    Even if your mortgage is paid off they can take away your house if you are behind on taxes.

  4. Also a county or city job used to pay $30-40,000 because you had job security but now everyone makes tons of money and administrators are making six figure salaries while the taxpayers are struggling to pay taxes on a lot less.

  5. We just closed on property in Wisconsin….

    exit stage right.

  6. Just sold our house in McHenry, took less than it was worth just to GET OUT!

    I now live where the real estate tax is 10% of what I was paying and the school is rated higher.

    Look at the houses on Zillow for sale.

    Of the 330 (more or less) 130 are foreclosures.

    1/3 of the houses are foreclosures.

    This can only get worse.

    Republicans are not conservative, they are just Progressive Lights there.

    Get out while you can.

  7. The only logical conclusion is that the humans promulgating this poisonous real estate economy environment are either personally untouched by it or earning a profit from it.

    There is no rational possibility for elected officials to be unaware of it.

    As home values crash, bargains are created for rental property investors.

    If the dump-and-pump scheme is managed properly, tax rates will drop after all the attractive properties have been flushed out of private hands, into connected investors’ control.

    Another way for the scheme to work is to create a two-tiered property tax scenario whereby connected property investors are granted special reduced property tax deals or outright monetary grants.

    The danger is at the tipping point, when so few remaining taxpayers are able to shoulder the growing actual tax burden, and public services must be cut, and the vicious downward spiral a la Detroit is inescapable.

    But there will be no danger to investors who have borrowed money invested; others, or taxpayers, will take all the losses.

  8. Woodstock D200 posts historical school building usage information on its 2015 bond issue official statement:

    3 stand out as operating at far below capacity:

    Clay Academy: Square feet: 44282. Student capacity: 300 students.
    Student enrollment past 5 years: 2014: 70 students. 2013: 50 students. 2012:51 students.
    2011: 44 students. 2010: 43 students.
    Clay Academy website lists 21 employees.

    Woodstock North HS: 307000 square feet. Student capacity: 1600 students.
    Student enrollment past 5 years: 2014: 929 students. 2013: 916 students. 2012:906 students.
    2011: 906 students. 2010: 691 students.
    WNHS website lists 86 employees.

    Woodstock HS: 319355 square feet. Student capacity: 1800 students.
    Student enrollment past 5 years: 2014: 968 students. 2013: 957 students. 2012:966 students.
    2011: 1019 students. 2010: 1198 students.
    WHS website doesn’t list total employees.

  9. Woodstock is slowly turning into Pottersville with all of the video gambling and the burgeoning so-called “red light” district (lol).

    Woodstock could be either a Barrington or a Harvard, but unfortunately, Woodstock seems destined to be the latter.

    As businesses like Le Creperie close down (and move to Barrington! Lol!), Woodstock will draw even fewer and fewer people with the education levels, income, and creativity that are so vital to maintaining a vibrant and thriving community.

    Instead we vote townies and their cronies onto the city council, people who want to use their position to help themselves (e.g., Hart who has business interests that conflict with his business dealings with the city).

    We have community leaders that have no vision, class, or sense of style whatsoever.

    Nope, instead, we are seeing the urban blight making itself right at home in Woodstock.

    Honestly, the town is becoming a dump.

    Who would want to live here anymore?

  10. Oh yeah, and why do people around here keep voting for Jack Franks?

    He’s a democrat, and because he is a democrat, a vote for Franks is a vote for Mike Madigan.

    I’ve met more and more people that say they like Jack, but complain about the Democratic Party in Illinois, and say they are sick of the Madigan machine.

    I am dumbfounded when I hear this kind of garbage.


    Don’t vote for any Democrats for state government.

    It’s really that simple!

    Doesn’t anyone have any common sense?

    Oh yeah, I forgot, all the educated people are moving out of McHenry County and leaving behind those that have no idea how our government works – forgot!

  11. In the 1970’a when I lived in Woodstock, sons and daughters of North Shore residents who could not afford a home there were moving to Woodstock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.