Finance Committee Fight over Valley Hi Taxes – Part 2

Yvonne Barnes presses for the correct wording to cut the Valley Hi levy and cut taxes at the same time, rather than re-allocating the "saved" money to another levy.

Yvonne Barnes presses for the correct wording to cut the Valley Hi levy and cut taxes at the same time, rather than re-allocating the “saved” money to another levy.

At this point Barnes weighed in.

“That’s concerns me,”  she said.

“You don’t solve that $20 million problem by [lowering the levy].

“I disagree,” Barnes replied.

“If you’re going to be thinking about another facility,” Walkup said, “I think that the taxpayers should weigh in on it.

“If it wasn’t part of the original referendum, there should be a voter initiative.”

“I’m not arguing about reducing the levy to zero; [rather] $1-1.5 million.

Wheeler related what voters had told him as he campaigned for election last year.

“One of the major concerns was the [huge] amount of money Valley Hi had in reserve.”

Reflecting on his motion to cut $750,000, he said, “Valley Hi can get by with $2.25 million.”

Talking about borrowing, he suggested he didn’t favor using the money to finance a $5 million salt dome.

After Wheeler made his motion, McCann asked,

“How much do you think that would [give each] taxpayer?”

Wheeler retorted:

“It’s better than increasing.

“It’s not the dollar amount.

“It’s that they know we’re out there working for them.

“I’m not working with an ax, but with a chisel.

“Valley Hi’s not going to be negatively [affected].”

At this point Skala told the committee members that if money were taken out of the Valley Hi levy, “it would be put in another fund.

“We’re collecting the same amount of money.”

Then Skala started talking about “the rate.”

{He lost me here, because the County Clerk sets tax rates, not the County Board.  The County Board sets the levy, that is, the amount to be requested from taxpayers.  The County Clerk looks at the maximum that can be collected, then figures out the rate necessary from the assessed valuation available.]

“What he’s trying to achieve is not on that sheet,” Skala said.

Chuck Wheeler expressed his views with intensity.

Chuck Wheeler expressed his views with intensity.

Mary McCann derides Chuck Wheeler's motion.

Mary McCann derided Chuck Wheeler’s motion.

Speaking of Wheeler’s motion, McCann pointed out, “But you’re not changing the bottom line.”

Provenzano returned to his argument that his was not the right time to bring up the subject.

“In late October, it is incredibly hard to change something,” he said.

Skala seemed to agree.

“What is the process to lower the rate?” Barnes asked, telling Finance Administrator Sarbaugh, “I don’t want to hear about the consequences.”

“You can tell me to leave $4 million on the table.

“That’s what you’ve told me [when you told me not to take the increase in the Consumer Price Index allowed by the Property Tax Cap]…

“If you tell me to leave $3 million on the table on top of the CPI [loss], there’s a positive side to it and there’s a negative side to it.

At this point Administrator Austin explained that the meeting was “not about setting a rate,” but concerns “what we’re asking for.”

Barnes pressed deeper, asking how tax money could be saved if the $79 million bottom line stayed the same.

Austin pointed out that both the Valley Hi levy and the bottom line of $79 million would have to be reduced by $750,000.

Mike Skala warns that if the Valley Hi levy were "zeroed out' it could only be reinstated with voter approval.

Chairman Mike Skala warns that if the Valley Hi levy were “zeroed out’ it could only be reinstated with voter approval.

Skala said, “[Once] you zero [it], you can’t [get it back, except] by referendum.”

Wheeler went back to the $20 million that Austin had admitted was in reserve.

“We’re being as prudent as we can,” Provenzano said.

“I think we can be a little more prudent with $20 million in reserves,” Wheeler replied.

Shifting the money from the Valley Hi levy to levies elsewhere in the budget has been going on for “the last three years,” Skala said.

The $750,000 being discussed “could go nowhere or it could elsewhere,” Austin said.

Explaining the shifting of the money the Valley Hi levy to others, Austin explained that the overall extension [amount asked from the taxpayers] has been kept flat.

By reducing the “ask” for Valley Hi, it has allowed “us extra space underneath to adjust other levies.”

Walkup interjected that “the taxpayers didn’t get any actual savings [from cutting the amount we’ve asked for Valley Hi].”

Provenzano suggested, “We’re leaving it in the hands of voters and taxpayers.”

Ralph Sarbaugh

Ralph Sarbaugh

“Yes,” replied Sarbaugh.

“If you ask me not to take $3 million, I won’t ask for it,” he continued.

“We won’t stand for something that’s mumbo jumbo,” Wheeler said.

The new County Board member from McHenry then waxed eloquently about how McHenry County should set an example.

“We are the shining light,” he said echoing President Ronald Reagan.

Talking about his proposed $750,000 budget cut, he said, “For the first time we’ll be telling the truth to the public.

No hocus, pocus. dominocus.”

Wheeler said he was quoting Harold Washington.

As I left the room, McCann said.

“And nobody will notice the difference.”

= = = = =
Previous articles on the meeting:

= = = = =
If you would like to call or email your county board members to express your views on whether they should levy the $3 millions or not, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here.

The draft levy ordinance can be seen below:

Levy ordinance draft 10-15-15 1Levy ordinance draft 10-15-15 2


Finance Committee Fight over Valley Hi Taxes – Part 2 — 8 Comments

  1. Remember folks Mike Skala was a local school board president for a LOT of years and his wife was or still is a teacher.

    I don’t recall any calls for reducing the hit on taxpayers ever coming from their mouths.

  2. McCann’s is wrong, financially and as a matter of good public policy.

    First, it is the TAXPAYERS’ money, not hers and not the County’s.

    The attitude of “they won’t notice” or “it’s not much” is equivalent to saying “we should take as much from the taxpayers as we can get away with”.

    Second, every government in the County says,

    “Oh, my levy is just a small part of the total. If I don’t cut it, or if I raise it just a few percentage points, it won’t matter.”

    The problem, of course, is that EVERY government says that, so taxes go up.

    It’s how we got into the mess we’re in here in McHenry County, with taxes so high people are moving away and our house prices have lagged.

    The ONLY way to get taxes down is for EVERY government to cut taxes.

    And voters should remember any elected official who thinks otherwise, come election time.

  3. Why continue to throw good money after bad (think onerous property taxes) in a futile attempt to bring government under control?

    Thousands of residents and businesses have already come to this inescapable conclusion.

    They have left or are planning to leave Illinois, taking their wealth with them.

    And the Great Exodus continues …..

  4. “Steve Willson on 10/18/2015 at 9:52 am said:” sounds like an excellent comment to me.

    Also remember, Elected officials drunk with power forget the money they play with is not theirs and belongs to the public.

    Illinois is so deep in the financial hole, I’m not sure it can be saved.

    Anyone think Detroit turned out okay?

  5. Our area is already Detroit.

    Housing Wire reported last week that Pro Tech Valuation services ranked our area as 4th worst performing in the nation.

    Slightly better than Detroit and worse than perennially poor performing Atlantic City, NJ.

    It’s worse here than many think, with no relief in site.

  6. If their piggy bank keeps getting bigger, maybe you shouldn’t give them as much money.

    It’s shocking that people run as Republicans and talk about fiscal conservatism and then pull stuff like this.


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