CL Chamber Hosts Tax District Officials – Part 3

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 Toni Reece, Library Director Kathryn Martens, Crystal Lake Grade School Board President Jeff Mason, and District 47 Superintendent Kathy Hinz.

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.

We finish our coverage of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce’s meeting with local governmental officials by looking at the answers to a question about the public’s biggest misconceptions and things governmental officials wish people knew.

Jeff Mason

Jeff Mason

First up was Crystal Lake Elementary School Board President Jeff Mason.

He wanted people to know how much less than state averages the expenses are.

Crystal Lake averages $5,750 per pupil, while the state average is $7,100.

Taking all expenses, District 47 spends $9,300 per year, while the average school spends $12,000.

Kathy Hinz

Kathy Hinz

“We feel we are good stewards,” he concluded.

Next School Superintendent Kathy Hinz.

“Schools are a business,” she said, with 1,200 employees and 7,600 students.

“We make our decisions in a businesslike fashion.”

Kathryn Martens

Kathryn Martens

Crystal Lake Librarian Kathryn Martens said the biggest misconception that libraries are all about books and books are going away.

At a recent convention of librarians there were more book sellers than ever before, she explained.

“Libraries work to meet people where they are and meet their needs…to connect you with the information you need.”

Ted Wagner

Ted Wagner

District 155 Board President Ted Wagner reflected on the $2 billion that has been spent during the eighteen years as he has served.

It’s “everybody’s money.

“Can we do better?

“You bet.”

He said the biggest misconception is that “there is some evil menace out there that’s trying to do something to the community.”

“We have a wonderful school system in the community here supported 70% by the real estate tax.”

With little emotion he explained, “We get insulted…We don’t get a lot of compliments.”

Joe Gottemoller

Joe Gottemoller

McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller asked audience members to be “our eyes and ears,” indicating that’s how County Board members get valuable information.

The former President of the McHenry County Conservation District Board told of how the land owned by that agency not only serves conservation purposes, but also covers essential recharge areas for local acquirers. Gottemoller had previously pointed to the role county government plays in water resources.

He also pointed to the Health Department’s role, pointing specifically to restaurant inspections.

Health Dept restaurant rating KY Waffle House
[Now if the Board of Health would only post the ratings at each restaurant, as they do in northern Kentucky and elsewhere.]

He could have pointed to

animal control, as well.

These folks not only pick up stray dogs, they remove dead animals from local roads.

Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster pointed out that Illinois is one of the few states with park districts.

He indicated that the independence of the park district kept local recreational services from being cut as they were elsewhere in the country.

“We’re in the business of saving lives,” the park district official said.

Last to answer the question was James Richter, Assistant Director of Community Economic Development for the City of Crystal Lake.

“When you’re successful, we’re successful,” he said, then, asked for more feedback.


Comments

CL Chamber Hosts Tax District Officials – Part 3 — 21 Comments

  1. Sad thing about this statement: ” “We’re in the business of saving lives,” the park district official said.”

    he actually believes it.

  2. The figures reported by Jeff Mason of D47 are false.

    According to data reported by the District to the Illinois State Board of Education, D47 spent $11,233 per pupil in FY2013.

    You can be sure that the figure this year is several percentage points higher.

    Further, with 24 students per class, D47 spent over $274,000 per class in FY2013.

    This latter, more important figure, is 50% higher than the lowest cost per class of all school districts in McHenry County.

    Further, the average teacher salary in D47 was only $55,000, or 20% of that $274,000.

    If I gave you $274,000, do you think you could rent space, buy desks and textbooks, hire a teacher, and still have money left over?

  3. Your right Concerned voter.

    He thinks he’s a ‘Colonel Jessup and ‘we can’t handle the truth’.

    Funny stuff.

  4. Well, Mr. Mason is just parrotting the results off of the ISBE District Report Card.

    The Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP) on that report is from FY13.

    This statistic does NOT represent the total expenses incurred in a fiscal year divided by enrollment (ADA).

    It excludes certain expenses related to CapEx, Special Ed, Pre-K, the principal amount of the debt service, etc.

    What is interesting is that, according to their FY14 Annual Financial Report filed with ISBE, the OEPP skyrocketed from $9,258 in FY13 to $10,267 in FY14.

    That’s a 10.9% increase.

    And since the FY15 AFR has not been released, we don’t know what this year’s number is yet.

    lthough, that schedule should be completed by now by the Finance Department if this year’s audit has been completed.

    I’m getting the sense that Mr. Mason has no understanding of the district’s finances.

  5. Concerned voter?

    You are so right and you don’t even know the half of it.

    My son almost lost his life BECAUSE of the Park District.

    Two brain surgeries later and Supreme Court would not even hear of a case against the Park District.

    These people are pure evil AND stupid.

  6. Just for kicks, I took the D-47 approved FY16 Budget and tried to calculate their FY16 OEPP and also used last year’s ADA of 7,238 for the denominator (given declining enrollment, FY16’s true ADA will be lower) to estimate the FY16 OEPP number.

    I come up with OEPP for this year at roughly $10,920/pupil.

    That’s no where near Mr. Mason’s statement from only 2 days ago of $9,300/pupil.

    Given D-47’s size advantage, it should be recognizing substantial benefits due to the economies of scale.

    They should not be reverting to the State mean.

  7. All figures on public education spending per pupil in Illinois are basically false because they do not include the state of Illinois contribution to the TRS teacher and administrator pension fund.

    That’s a $1 Billion Dollar plus overall annual contribution the state makes “on behalf” of the local school districts.

    The district would claim that’s a state expenditure not a district expenditure.

    Well it’s still a taxpayer expenditure and should be pointed out in per pupil expenditures.

    If the state decides to shift that contribution to local, local property taxes will be hiked or services cut.

    If the state decides to reallocate the way General State Aid is distributed, most if not all school districts in McHenry County would see a reduction in General State Aid.

    General State Aid is state funding for school districts.

    Bottom line, per pupil expenditures are lowballed in Illinois.

  8. District 155 deserves to be heavily criticized.

    Here’s what the blog article says”

    “District 155 Board President Ted Wagner reflected on the $2 billion that has been spent during the eighteen years as he has served.

    It’s everybody’s money.

    “Can we do better?

    “You bet.”

    He said the biggest misconception is that “there is some evil menace out there that’s trying to do something to the community.”

    “We have a wonderful school system in the community here supported 70% by the real estate tax.”

    With little emotion he explained, “We get insulted…We don’t get a lot of compliments.”

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Mr. Wagner has been involved 18 years but the board still doesn’t videotape and archive on its website the board meetings.

    Board meetings are where the board approves taxpayer expenditures and policy on how taxpayer money is spent.

    That’s an insult to taxpayers to not videotape board meetings and archive them on the school district website.

    Anyone who has been involved 18 years should be able to figure that out.

    And there are plenty of other areas in which Crystal Lake High School district is woefully inadequate in terms of transparency.

    They complain about unfunded mandates, but they often don’t do what’s needed unless they are mandated to do so.

  9. From the blog article:

    Next School Superintendent Kathy Hinz.

    “Schools are a business,” she said, with 1,200 employees and 7,600 students.

    “We make our decisions in a businesslike fashion.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Schools are definitely not a business.

    They are a government monopoly with public sector monopoly labor unions as a condition of labor employment.

    The government monopoly is typically the largest or one of the largest employers in the area it serves.

    Business have competition and customers can choose whether or not to buy the product or service.

    In a government monopoly school district there is no choice.

    In a government monopoly school district there is no choice for parents to reallocate property tax or income tax dollars to the school of their choice.

    If the customer is unhappy with the service, too bad, the government monopoly school district continues to receive that taxpayer’s dollars irregardless of customer satisfaction.

    And they decisions they make are not made with adequate taxpayer transparency.

    They decisions they make adhere to state law which does not provide for adequate taxpayer transparency.

  10. People complain legitimately about the cost of public schools.

    Look at the figures from the last comment.

    7,600 students / 1,200 employees.

    That’s 6.3 students per employee.

    There is massive people overhead in a public school district in no small part because they have to adhere to the massive amount of government regulations which have piled up over the years at the Federal and State level, plus policies and procedures at the school board level.

    The overhead includes special education law which is very complicated, plus plenty of other areas.

    In defense of the school district it is no easy task to decipher and adhere to all those regulations.

    At some point that pile will have to be reformed, can you imagine all the regulations 25, 50, 75, or 100 years from now.

  11. Back to the schools are a business comment.

    One way government has acted increasingly like a business is marketing and public relations.

    Much more than 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago many are obsessed about their image and market their good points at the expense of true financial transparency.

    Then many units of government require citizens to jump through all sorts of hoops to learn information through FOIA.

    It can be very difficult to get good information through FOIA if the government wants to keep the information from the public.

    With too many units of government, you have to know the answer to the question before you ask the question; or you have to know exactly what documents to ask for; or the government will not give you the documents.

    Better Government Association, the Citizens Advocacy Center, and the Illinois Attorney General have many examples of units of government stonewalling citizen FOIA requests.

    That is another serious problem we have in obtaining good information, be it information about the true financial picture of units of government, or other information.

  12. Remember, Woodstock’s school district is a unit district, while Crystal Lake has separate high school and grade school districts.

    That makes direct comparisons tricky.

  13. Once again OEPP = Operating Expense per Pupil.

    And once again, that doesn’t include the state contribution to the TRS public school teacher & administrator pension fund, which is made on behalf of the school districts.

  14. Huntley unit district 158 2014 OEPP Reported on ISbE:
    $8,844

    ( this checks out as Woodstock d200 spends much more in most every category than 69% of Huntley…Huntley 158 has 144% student population of D200)

  15. Number one problem in public education in the U.S.A.?

    The Unconstitutional Federal Department of Education. Largest problems in the State of Illinois?

    The State Constitution, the right to strike by most public sector unions and prevailing wage laws.

    How many of these problems will ever receive serious legislative attention?

    We have a group pushing for a referendum on a change to redistricting laws in Illinois.

    This will do nothing to correct the current problems.

    I would sooner like to see a referendum to FIX the State Constitution.

    If you think redistricting will help by getting more Republicans elected, just look at D.C.

    We, the voters, gave the Republicans control of both houses and look at what they are doing.

  16. Park Districts provide areas and programs for recreation, that allow people to be active and encourage athletic activity.

    YES_ in a country where childhood obesity and the increased use of video games is an epidemic, I would agree the Park District contributes to longer lives by encouraging healthy lifestyles.

    THe comments on this blog are mind boggling- the hate and sophomoric behavior is embarrassing.

    If some of you woke up lying on a pile of gold you would complain it is cold.

    Seriously- if you aren’t happy with how your government is run- feel free to step up and take the reins.

  17. The Issue always centers around: at what cost?

    If people aren’t allowed to question the numbers–how much is being taxed, how is it being spent– then we are only a society of connected insiders manipulating all public resources to their own narrow individual benefit, and the rest of us.

  18. The biggest problem in state and local government in Illinois, which includes public education, is hiked pensions due to hiked legislative pension benefit hikes, hiked salaries (which hikes the pension), and diverting employer funding from pensions to hike salaries.

    The pension problem was primarily enabled by one sentence added to the Illinois State Constitution on December 15, 1970.

    That sentence is:

    “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

    That sentence must be repealed in its entirety by constitutional amendment.

    That sentence forces taxpayers to fund the above hikes.

    Who funds the enforceable contractual relationship?

    Taxpayers.

    Did individual taxpayers sign any such contract?

    No.

    It’s a blanket “contract” covering all taxpayers written into the state constitution.

    Public sector pensions in Illinois have a very strong right to taxpayer dollars, so there was disregard to whether or not the pensions were hiked to affordable levels….who cares if they are affordable, taxpayers have to come up with the money anyways.

  19. The most morally troubling aspect to me is that teachers and government officials refuse to question the value of healthcare ‘benefit’ they are receiving for the price they are forcing the public to pay.

    ACA plan exchange (Healthcare.gov) provides an easy means of comparison as to premiums and allowed medical benefits.

    From what I have seen, it looks like all public employees could be given vouchers for Gold or Platinum Plans on the ACA exchange and save the public about 40% of the cost it is charging taxpayers.

    Only those employees (who are protected and rewarded with extraordinary unique legal protections and privileges) can effectively cause change in status quo.

    Only they can take a few moments to login to Healthcare.gov, plug in a few variables anonymously, and discover that they are paying (well not THEY, but SOMEBODY is paying)crazy high dollars for…what?

    Can any of these teachers or County Board Members tell whether they are covered for a four-lead or single chamber pacemaker?

    Or whether they are covered for oncology biologics, cancer immunology, or just old-tech chemo and radiation treatments)?

    Do these individuals feel that it is not worth an hour or two effort to investigate the comparison pricing on health care finance plans (aka health insurance) in order to benefit their suffering fellow Americans?

    Why do they have such a deep contempt and indifference for all the American citizens forced to pay for the right for them to stunningly, staggeringly overpay third party administrators and managers (NOT doctors and nurses!!!)for overpriced healthcare finance plans???

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