CL Chamber Hosts Tax District Officials – Part 2

C of C panel 9-24-15

Participating on the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce panel of local governmental officials at Park Place were, from left to right, Crystal Lake Assistant Director of Community Economic Development James Richter, Crystal Lake Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster, McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller, Crystal Lake High School Board President Ted Wagner, District 155 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas, Crystal Lake Library Board President Terri Reece, Library Director Kathryn Martens, Crystal Lake Grade School Board President Jeff Mason, and District 47 Superintendent Kathy Hinz.

At Thursday morning’s Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce governmental forum, there was a question and answer session.

There was a well-researched question asking about what tax districts were doing about duplication of services:

“From 2009 through 2012, Countywide Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) dropped from $10.4 Billion to $7.9 Billion, a 24% decrease.

“Meanwhile, levies increased from $752 Million to $797 Million, or 6%.

“This caused the aggregate tax rate to climb from 7.2% to 10.08%, almost 40%.

“As values begin to return, is there any coordinated effort to hold or reduce levies among taxing bodies so the rate drops faster and people start to feel some relief?”

City Assistant Director of Community Economic Development JamesRichter explained that the increase in taxes for the City of Crystal Lake averaged $10.77 for homeowners, a 1.3% increase.

That amounted to 90 cents per month, he said, pointing out that most city revenues came from sales taxes.

Herbster, Jason looling right talking teethThe Park District’s Jason Herbster pointed out that District 155 and the Park District no longer bill each other for use of the other’s facilities, e.g., gyms and ball fields, and the city is not charging fees anymore.

(No mention was made by either of the separate recreation activities of the city since the city opened Three Oaks Recreational Area.)

Joe Gottemoller

Joe Gottemoller

Referring to the Illinois General Assembly and Governor, McHenry County Board Chairman Gottemoller said,

“They’re going to make a flat levy for all of us whether we like it or not.”

Ted Wagner

Ted Wagner

Crystal Lake High School Board President Ted Wagner told of the abatement of Prairie Ridge building bonds for the last two years.  He mention “50%.”

He also told of cutting $495,000 in supplies, that business office personnel were working together.

Wagner reminded those attending that “85% of your budget is wages and benefits.

“The teachers union has worked together with the administration,” he added before saying District 155 was “trying to keep tax growth at a minimum.”

Kathryn Martens

Kathryn Martens

The Library’s Kathryn Martens revealed a “local leaders group” which meets periodically.

With regard to the Library’s part of the tax bill, she said the levy was cut back in 2009.

“Each year we’re trying to get back to where we were in 2010.”

She described her staff as “fiscally conservative.”

At this point someone revealed an upcoming joint meeting of the five school boards within the high school district’s boundaries.

Gottemoller replied to a question that pointed out that McHenry County has as many County Board members are McHenry

The person who posed the question thought there would be increased accountability and reduced costs.

[As far as accountability goes, single member districts would surely make that possible.  With regard to costs, however, what would make anyone think that if the number of County Board members were cut form 24 to 12, for instance, that those remaining would not seek to double the current $21,000 salary?]

Gottemoller went the questioner one better.

He told of going to a national association of county board convention and discovering that Los Angeles has only five county commissioners.

“There’s really no reason we can’t be smaller,” he concluded after informing the audience that the number of county board members can be changed by referendum or by the board itself after each U.S. Census.

Jeff Mason

Jeff Mason

District 47 was asked by it had more money in the bank that its annual budget.

“Like most school districts, we have reserves–ninety days cash in the bank,” grade school Board President Jeff Mason said.

“Those reserves act as a buffer in times of crisis,” District 155 Superintendent JohnnieThomas added.

Chamber President Mary Margaret Maule moderated the meeting.

= = = = =
Tomorrow the biggest misconceptions and things governmental officials wish people knew.

The first article on the meeting can be found here.


CL Chamber Hosts Tax District Officials – Part 2 — 3 Comments

  1. “Like most school districts, we have reserves–ninety days cash in the bank,” grade school Board President Jeff Mason said.

    According to the Budget document that was just voted on by Mr. Mason only 10 days ago, it shows that the district had $78.4 million in Cash as of June 30th, 2015.

    The Operating Expense Budget for the entire year is $91.1 million.

    If the district only had 3 months of Cash on hand, per Mr. Mason, that would only total to roughly $22.8 million.

    That’s a $55.6 million variance and seems like an awfully large disparity.

    So, one can conclude one or more of the following:

    A. Mr. Mason has no idea what he’s talking about.

    B. or Mr. Mason knows the truth, but decided to tell a $55.6 million whopper.

    C. or there are material mis-statements of the district’s financial records.

    I’m not sure A and B are neccessarily mutually exclusive. And I’d put a low probability on C given the fact that the financials are audited, but, given the Dixon, IL experience, I can’t bring that probability down to zero.

    Lastly, I’ll bet if the district actually posted its monthly treasurer’s report on its site, the 9/30/15 Cash balance would sit at close to $100 million after receiving the September Levy proceeds from the county.

  2. Doesn’t 155 have over 80 million of our $$ in reserve/slush fund?

    Does Thomas seriously expect us to believe that this is typical and just a 90 day reserve?

  3. Crystal Lake High School District 155 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas pay history
    2014 – $211,921 – Crystal Lake High School District 155
    2013 – $215,646 – Crystal Lake High School District 155
    2012 – $192,421 – Township High School District 214
    2011 – $175,688 – Township High School District 214
    2010 – $167,457 – Township High School District 214
    2009 – $160,413 – Valley View CUSD 365
    2008 – $136,065 – Valley View CUSD 365
    2007 – $107,472 – Valley View CUSD 365
    2006 – $100,000 – Valley View CUSD 365
    2005 – $057,320 – Valley View CUSD 365
    2004 – $052,318 – Chicago Public Schools
    2003 – $055,843 – Chicago Public Schools
    2002 – $038,940 – Chicago Public Schools

    There are many different retirement options in the TRS pension fund for teachers and administrators.

    The standard option is starting pension is 75% of the average of the last 4 years worked.

    The standard minimum requirement is 35 years of service and age 55, but there are some standard perks to lessen that.

    One option is to exchange up to 2 years of accumulated unused sick leave (which is 340 days) for 2 years of service credit, allowing one to retire with full benefits for example but working 2 less years.

    Dr. Thomas has 14 years worked as 2014.

    It’s anyone’s guess what his salary will be in 21 years in year 2035 but every taxpayer in the state should be concerned because it’s state taxpayer dollars including state income taxes right now that fund the state contribution to TRS.

    $211,921 + $215,646 + $192,421 + $175,688 = $795,676.
    $795,676 / 4 = $198,919.
    $198,919 x .75 = $149,189 starting pension bare minimum if he receives no more salary increases until he retires.

    Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is 3% annually.

    Lowballing life expectancy to age 80, that’s 25 years of 3% COLA hikes (55 years + 25 years = 80 years).

    $149,189 starting pension + 3% annual COLA, last pension would be $312,368.

    $312,368 is the future value of $149,189 with 3% interest rate compounded annually.

    Just Google search for a future value calculator to run the numbers of your choice.

    The average teacher in the Chicago suburbs is retiring now after 35 years of service with approximately t a $75,000 pensions.

    Meaning ending pension after 25 years of retirement and annual 3% COLA hike would be $157,033.

    So teacher starting pension is now higher than teacher starting pay by far.

    Pile on pensions for police, fire, state workers, university employees, municipal workers, legislators & judges, transit workers; and bonds at the state and local level; plus all the same at the Federal level.

    Now that is a completely unsustainable system, or if anyone can make the math work, let’s see it.

    Sure maybe you can make the math work with one or two of the pension systems, but not when you combine all pensions and bonds, impossible.

    The pension benefits have to be clawed back and salary and benefit hikes controlled, as the present system is out of control and unsustainable.

    Crystal Lake High School District 155 includes the following high schools:
    Cary-Grove High School, Cary.
    Crystal Lake Central High School, Crystal Lake.
    Crystal Lake South High School, Crystal Lake.
    Prairie Ridge High School, Crystal Lake.

    Township High School District 214 includes high schools in Wheeling & Elk Grove Townships in Cook County.
    The schools are as follows:
    Buffalo Grove High School, Buffalo Grove.
    Elk Grove High School, Elk Grove.
    Forest View Alternative School, Arlington Heights.
    Hersey High School, Arlington Heights.
    Newcomer Center, Arlington Heights.
    Prospect High School, Mt. Prospect.
    Rolling Meadows High School, Rolling Meadows.
    Vanguard School, Arlington Heights.
    Young Adult Program, Rolling Meadows.
    Wheeling High School, Wheeling.
    Township High School District 214 is the 2nd largest high school district in Illinois by enrollment.
    There are additional unit school districts which are larger.
    Unit school districts include both elementary & middle schools, & high schools.
    In educational vernacular elementary school districts include middle schools.

    Valley View CUSD 365 is a unit district in Will County that includes most of Bolingbrook & Romeoville, & portions of Plainfield, Lockport, Downers Grove, and Woodridge.
    CUSD = Community Unit School District.
    High schools in Valley View CUSD 365 are:
    Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook.
    Romeoville High School, Romeoville.

    Chicago Public Schools is more officially known as City of Chicago School District 299.

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