CL Library Looking at General Election Referendum

Terri Reece

Terri Reece

At the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Town Hall Meeting with local governmental officials, Library Board President Terri Reece said that the Library is acquiring property north of the current building was being pursed.

She added that a referendum to finance the building of a new library might be held in November of next year.

Because that’s when the President is elected, more people will vote then than at any other of the five elections held every two years.

The amount to be requested was not revealed.

In 2012, however, a figure of over $20 million was mentioned.

This is the house on the Crystal Lake Avenue side of the Library that would be torn down.

Residences north of the current Library are being eyed by the Board.

Librarian Kathryn Martens explained that the need for more space was brought to her in 1990, the year she was hired.

Kathryn Martens

Kathryn Martens

She outlined the history of the building at the corner of Paddock Street and McHenry Avenue.

In 1952, a library was built there.

In 1965, it was re-built, as I understood her explanation.

Additions were constructed in 1984 and 1995.

Besides the structure’s not being “designed to be a 21st Century building,” there is a basic problem to the site, Martens said.

“The oldest [part] is sitting on an ash pit.”

The less than sold soil beneath results in an inability to house stacks of books there.

Across from the old Immanuel Lutheran Church are three Crystal Lake Library signs on McHenry Avenue.

Across from the old Immanuel Lutheran Church, a polling place, are three Crystal Lake Library signs on McHenry Avenue.  Signs like these have been distributed to patrons for the last two years.

In 2012, the City Council, which appoints the Library Board and levies its taxes, asked the Board to look at other sites, citing the number of vacant buildings in town.

Proposed relocation of the library.

Proposed relocation of the library.

Twenty-three different locations with thirty-nine options were examined.

The Board concluded that the “best option was to stay” where the Library now is located.

The site comparison study can be found here.

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Articles about the Thursday morning Town Hall Meeting with local governmental officials:


CL Library Looking at General Election Referendum — 22 Comments

  1. They are going to take over the whole town.

    They grow like the Blob.

  2. Is this the kind of irresponsible government we can expect from Consolidated Township Boards?

  3. Check out the book Illinois Pension Scam by Bill Zettler from the library before deciding which way to vote on the referendum.

    Expanding on that, taxpayers can’t afford the current state and local pension, retiree healthcare, bond debt, and cost structure of government at today’s service levels.

    Most taxpayers don’t know that, due to the government playing hide and seek, kick the can, catch me if you can.

    The government and the special interests have outsmarted the taxpayers.

    At least in the short and intermediate term, if you can call 45 years short and intermediate.

    Due to the games government can play, 45 years is actually short and intermediate term.

    The government has been doing the equivalent of charging the credit card in various ways and it is not healthy or sustainable.

    Mark Levin calls this Plunder and Deceit in his book (haven’t read the book, only heard of it, not endorsing him but it’s an concept for the purposes of this conversation).

    The library is not looking at the complete taxpayer picture, just at their library picture.

    Figure out how to make the current overall state and local tax system sustainable then add on.

    The library would just say what, that’s not my job.

    It’s up to the taxpayers to look out for themselves.

  4. The sales pitch will be everything to win the vote.

    The anti anything tax is as strong as I can remember.

  5. The current overall method of operating state and local cost of government in Illinois is not 21st century sustainable.

    Taxpayers don’t have the slightest clue of their state and local government IOU for pensions, bonds, and retiree healthcare.

    Can you imagine charging your credit card if you didn’t know your credit card balance.

    That’s exactly what the library is asking with a referendum.

    The library can explain the taxpayer IOU to the library for pensions, bonds, and retiree healthcare.

    (Most taxing districts don’t even do that.)

    The library will not explain the taxpayer IOU for all the other units of local government and the state.

    That’s up to the taxpayer to figure out.

    That is a major problem.

    It’s as if you Kohl’s can tell you how much you owe Kohl’s, but it’s not Kohl’s job to tell you how much you all the other stores on your credit card bill.

    It’s the taxpayers problem to figure out how much they owe.

    And the taxing districts do not make it easy for the taxpayers to accomplish that task.

    Big problem.

  6. Actually that’s a good place to start.

    There is not Crystal Lake Public Library taxing district.

    It’s part of the village of Crystal Lake taxing district.

    So have the library explain the unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities for the village of Crystal Lake.

    That will open a can of worms because the Crystal Lake police pension is underfunded (police is also part of the village).

    This is what is known as the Downstate Police Pension Fund.

    Funding status of the Crystal Lake Downstate Police Pension Fund can be found in the village annual financial report, and in the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) Report on the Financial Condition of the Downstate Police and Downstate Fire Pension Funds in Illinois.

    The latest edition is dated May 2015 and includes statistics from 2013.

    As of 2013 the Crystal Lake Downstate Police Pension Fund had an unfunded liability of about $22 million dollars.

    Meaning taxpayers owe the fund $22 million dollars.

    That’s one fund, one taxing district.

    What’s each taxpayer’s share of that $22 million?

    That’s rather difficult to calculate.

    We can make a very rough ballpark estimation by calculating your property tax bill as a small fractional percentage of the village of Crystal Lake extension for a particular year.

    Then multiplying that number by $22,000,000.

    Then doing the same for all the other taxing districts on your property tax bill, for bonds and pensions and retiree healthcare.

    The Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department is also part of the Village of Crystal Lake.

    It is a fire department not fire protection district.

    Fire departments are part of the village / city / town, whereas fire protection districts are separate taxing districts.

    The COGFA Report on the Financial Condition of the Downstate Police and Downstate Fire Pension Funds in Illinois, May 2015 edition, which uses 2013 figures, indicates the Crystal Lake Firefighters Pension Fund is unfunded about $12 million dollars.

    So as of 2013 the police pension fund was unfunded about $22 million and the fire pension fund was unfunded about $12 million and both are part of the same taxing district as the library, which is the Village of Crystal Lake.

    So taxpayers can’t afford $34 million for just police and fire pensions as of 2013 but they can afford a library project?

    The village of Crystal Lake also participate in the IMRF pension fund, which is underfunded but not by much.

    Incidentally regarding IMRF, ask the library if the Crystal Lake police chief is in the IMRF Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel (SLEP) pension or the Downstate Police pension.

    That brings up the whole issue of retired people working while drawing a pension and contributing to another pension which involves a lot of taxpayer financing (public sector pensions in Illinois are heavily financed by the employer (taxpayer) contribution with all unfunded liabilities dumped on the taxpayer.

    The library is part of the village, the library should have the answer if they want to pass a referendum.

    All village finances should be on the table.

    Look up the village finances in the corporate annual financial report on the village website. > Departments > Finance

    Look up the village finances on the Illinois State Comptroller Data Warehouse website.
    The Comptroller ID for the Village of Crystal Lake is 063/020/30.

    Look up the village bond debt on the EMMA MSRB website.
    The CUSIP for the village of Crystal Lake is 229255.

    How about the village Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Districts, how are they impacting property taxes.

    How about the village collective bargaining agreements, which future pay hikes are already embedded into the collective bargaining agreements.

    How about pay hikes for each village employees over the last 10 years, has the village been controlling pay hike costs, since they are proposing a library construction project.

    Is the village able to demonstrate the current bond debt, unfunded pension liability, unfunded retiree healthcare liability, TIFs, and that they are a controlling costs at a level affordable to taxpayers long term.

    The big red flag is the $34 million IOU to the police and fire pension funds (the unfunded liability).

    We can go on and on, this is just scratching the surface.

    All sorts of hide and seek, kick the can, catch me if you can.

    The taxpayer has too start looking out for themselves.

    Obviously no one has explained all this to the average taxpayer.

  7. In summary since the Crystal Lake Public Library is part of the Village of Crystal Lake taxing district, along with the Crystal Lake Police Department, the Crystal Lake Fire Department, the Virginia Street TIF, the Vulcan Lakes TIF, and the Crystal Lake Avenue & Main Street TIF, the overall unfunded pension liabilities, overall unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities, and overall bond debt, along with the collective bargaining agreements and current pay and benefits, of all those entities should be considered by taxpayers when determining if they have the funds now and in the future to finance the aforementioned plus the funds to issue debt for library construction.

    The Crystal Lake Park District is separate from the Village of Crystal Lake taxing district.

    The Crystal Lake Rural Fire Protection District is separate from the Village of Crystal Lake taxing district.

    The Crystal Lake Rural Fire Protection District is not the same as the Village of Crystal Lake Fire Department.

    The Crystal Lake Rural Fire Protection District has an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Crystal Lake for fire protection and ambulance service.

    Actually officially it’s the City of Crystal Lake not the Village of Crystal Lake.

    One reason property tax bills have become so large is all these taxing districts (and as we see here even parts of individual taxing districts) act as if they are silos and do not provide taxpayers with an easy way to add up all the silo taxing districts in particular the future payments for pensions, bonds, and retiree healthcare.

  8. They don’t understand NO NO NO NO NO, all they know is spend, spend, spend, wastefulness!

  9. One of the keys to the spending is they don’t tell you the true debt and IOU’s.

    If you don’t know how much you owe, there’s a higher likelihood you will agree to a finance plan now.

    Would you buy a car now if you didn’t know how much you owed on your house?

    Could you obtain a car loan now if you didn’t know and therefore couldn’t explain to the lender how much you owe on your house?

    The hidden debt is like getting a credit card bill with 100 pages of fine print about your future payments.

    They could do a far better job of portraying how much each taxpayer owes each unit of government.

    No lender would lend money to someone, if that person couldn’t tell them, a true picture of their finances.

    But it happens all the time with taxing district bond referendums.

    It’s crazy and it’s gotten out of control.

  10. Since the library is part of the City of Crystal Lake taxing district, let’s take a look at the police and fire pensions in the City of Crystal Lake taxing district:



    Not very many retirees and the pensions are not as high when compared to public schools.

    But, thanks to legislative pension benefit hikes, and salary hikes, and full career employees who are retiring in the next 5 years who by default benefit from those hikes, those pensions will grow in size and number.

    What’s not included in that list, but would have been helpful, is years worked and retirement date.

    What’s not so easy is to look at village finances, the pensions laws, the collective bargaining agreements, the retiree healthcare law, in state and out of state comparable pay, and more, and figure out how to create an equitable and sustainable pension.

    We are not even close to that in Springfield.

    The Democratic SuperMajority in the Senate and House including Jack Franks are having no such conversations.

    The legislators and governors with encouragement from the unions and lobbyists and special interests obligated your taxpayer money without your full knowledge over the last 45 years and there is no discussions to bailing out the taxpayer.

  11. The above links are broken, TUA literally must have just changed them in the last few minutes?

    Here are some working links.

    Crystal Lake Police Pensions

    Crystal Lake Fire Pensions

    Taxpayers United of America has been rebranded to Taxpayer Education Foundation and now includes a spreadsheet download option.

    Visit their website and type in the search word of your choice, such as,”McHenry.”

  12. Pointed out it’s a city but irregardless if it’s technically a city, town, or village doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of spending, pensions, bonds, retiree healthcare, etc.

  13. “twenty-three different locations with thirty-nine options were examined.

    “The Board concluded that the “best option was to stay” where the Library now is located.




  14. It’s NOT an old building.

    It’s new building; and the OLD building was more of a library than this expensive concoction could ever be!

  15. The taxpayers of Crystal Lake cannot afford public library construction whether or not its necessary, but most taxpayers do not know this.

    Here is a video about the actuarial profession which plays a major role in this hide and seek, kick the can, catch me if you can fiasco.

    MIT Tech TV
    MIT Center for Finance and Policy Annual Conference 2015
    September 25, 2015 11:04
    Speaker: Jeremy Gold, Jeremy Gold Pensions

  16. Solution: make actuaries civilly liable.

    It sounds like they are begging (as a profession) for accountability standards to be enforced.

    They need ‘permission’ to tell their clients that they cannot perform on clients’ behalf as in the past.

    (Good video.)

  17. Actuarial reform is inevitable although what is logical is often not politically viable.

    The actuarial story is unfolding and has been unfolding although most property taxpayers and citizens don’t know that.

    Even if public sector pensions are 100% funded many of the pension funds are in trouble in terms of long term sustainability due to bogus pension and retiree healthcare actuarial assumptions.

    And it’s not only the actuarial assumptions, but the rules…there are not enough taxpayer protection and disclosure rules in the actuarial profession, and there may well not be until after a crisis strikes at which point there will be calls for actuarial reform.

    To make matters worse, most public sector pensions are not 100% funded.

    To make matters worse that that, Illinois pensions at the state level are the worst funded among all the states.

    To make matters worse than that, Illinois local pensions are often grossly underfunded.

    To make matters worse than that, Illinois public sector pensions that are not grossly underfunded, such as IMRF, and all public sector pensions in Illinois, require taxpayer contributions at least 2x the employee contribution, and require taxpayers to bear 100% of the burden of any investment return shortfall.

    To make matters worse than that, the Illinois state constitution forces taxpayers to fund all those public sector pensions irregardless of legislative pension benefit hikes, and and local / state pay hikes (which hikes the pension), irregardless if pensions were already underfunded when those hikes were passed.

    To make matters worse than that, there is substantial bond debt at the state and most local levels, and often that bond debt has escalating payments, and bond debt also has to be repaid by taxpayers.

    Crystal Lake taxpayers can’t afford a new library due to this mess; that is due to pensions, retiree healthcare, and existing bond debt at the City of Crystal Lake.

    And since Crystal Lake taxpayers pay property taxes to other taxing districts, taxpayers need to consider the pensions and retiree healthcare and bonds of all local taxing districts.

    And since Crystal Lake taxpayers pay state income taxes, taxpayers need to consider the pensions and retiree healthcare and bonds at the state level.

    And since Crystal Lake taxpayers pay Federal income taxes, taxpayers need to consider the pensions and retiree healthcare and bonds at the Federal level.

    And that story is being hidden from Crystal Lake taxpayers and citizens everywhere in Illinois and across the nation, it just happens to be that Illinois is the state where these games of hide and seek, kick the can, catch me if you can are the worst.

    It’s an ingrained culture in Illinois government and politics.

    It’s a good old fashioned money grab courtesy of taxpayers.

    If you think pensions are a problem, watch the video.

    If you want a new library or any other government improvement which requires bonds, watch the video.

    And related what is present in almost all TIF’s…issuance of bonds to be repaid by taxpayers, typically property taxpayers, although sometimes there is a sales tax surcharge in the TIF district.

    Taxpayer beware.

  18. Here is another piece of evidence to support the assertion that taxpayers need to look out for themselves because taxing districts are not telling the complete story, and that furthermore is an ingrained culture pervasive throughout Illinois politics and government.

    Chicago is asking for a $500 Million property tax hike to shore up Chicago police and fire pensions.

    However, the unfunded liability in the 5 largest Chicago pension funds grew $4.3 Billion last year alone.

    Thus just to tread water, much less pay down one penny of the unfunded liability taxpayer IOU to the 5 largest pension funds in Chicago, Chicago needs an additional $3.8 Billion tax hike this year alone.

    Reboot Illinois
    Chicago property tax increase huge, but grossly inadequate to address city pension trouble
    Sep 29, 2015
    by Ed Bachrach

    The pension problem is out of control in Illinois.

    The government and politicians can’t even portray basic facts of the problem to the public, and thus do not admit to the basic facts of the problem, and thus do not propose any realistic solutions the problem.

    The author of the article suggests bankruptcy as an option.

    Of course first a bankruptcy option would have to be added to state law.

    The author does not go into this following fact, but to date bankruptcy has not worked out well for bond holders.

    To date, pensions have been fully or nearly fully paid, and bond holders have take major losses.

    So if pensioners are to share more equitably in their hiked pensions, repealing the pension sentence added to the Illinois state constitution on December 15, 1970, and then clawing back hiked benefits, and that may avert some bankruptcies, although bankruptcy would probably still be necessary for some taxing districts.

    The pensioners and taxpayers should be concerned about municipal bondholders taking big losses, because if municipal bondholders hold out for higher bond interest rates, that increases the costs of municipal bonds to taxpayers, which means less taxpayer money for employee pay hikes and benefits, or higher taxes for taxpayers, and taxpayers will only put up with so many tax hikes, before moving.

    People are lulled because there is no current catastrophe but we have a massive problem in Illinois with public sector pensions, retiree healthcare, and bonds and that goes all the way down to taxpayers calculating if they can afford a city library expansion.

  19. There is a current catastrophe on Woodstock Illinois.

    The Woodstock Effect is a documentary in progress.

    A Manual on how to make big money in little government, with willing complicits subsidized from without.

    The trick is to exit before scam collapses when subsidies from without dry up.

  20. More on how actuaries lowballed the unfunded liabilities of public sector pensions which in turn lowballs the amount employers owe the pension fund which in turn turn frees up taxing district / state funding for other uses such as hiking salaries (which hikes the pension).

    Since taxpayers don’t have unlimited funds forever, more money for pensions means less or no money for city projects such as library expansion.

    STUMP Blog
    by Mary Pat, an actuary
    September 29, 2015

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