District 4, 5 & 6 County Board Republican Candidates Face Public – Valley Hi’s $41.3 Million Surplus

Ten people seeking Republican nominations for the McHenry County Board appeared at the League of Women Voters Forum Tuesday night.

Kay Bates, Sue Draffkorn, Craig Wilcox,

Kay Bates, Sue Draffkorn, Craig Wilcox, Joe Calomino, Mike Skala, Andy Snarski, Jim Kearns, Kelly Liebmann, Preston Rea, Ersel Schuster faced the voters at McHenry County College Tuesday night.

There are running for ballot spots in

  • District 4 (McHenry, Johnsburg, Richmond and Spring Grove)
  • District 5 (Woodstock, Huntley, Bull Valley and western Lakewood, Algonquin and Lake in the Hills)
  • District 6 (basically the western half of McHenry County, plus the northern half with the exception of District 4)
County Board Districts.

County Board Districts.

Six questions were asked of the candidates, including one on the subject of most interest to me (and most likely to save tax dollars for everyone–Valley Hi’s enormous $41.3 million surplus).

Let’s start with Valley Hi first.

Preston Rea

Preston Rea

In opening statements District 6 candidate Alden Township Supervisor Preston Rea brought up the subject first in answer to what candidates would cut in the County budget.

He said he would like to

“put $30 million into the local economy by cleaning out the Valley Hi slush fund.

“It is low hanging fruit.

“They now have four years worth of funding.”

DrAffkorn looking right bestDistrict 4 incumbent Sue Draffkorn echoed Rea.

Running against her is Craig Wilcox.

Craig Wilcox

Craig Wilcox

In an apparent slap at Draffkorn Wilcox said,

“First we should cut lip service.

“You don’t go to Valley Hi if you voted for it for the last ten years.”

Elsewhere Draffkorn said she had served on the County Board ten years.

That’s what was said before the question about Valley Hi.

The questioner pointed out that  $41,341,736.59 was currently in the Valley Hi fund.

District 5’s Andy Snarski was the first to answer.

Andy Snarski

Andy Snarski

He pointed out that a 2002 referendum had established the tax. With $41 million in the bank, he contended at a reasonable amount would be $10 million.

He and others said that action was needed in Springfield (which I wished I could have pointed out was but a pipe dream, because Mike Madigan wants the Property Tax Cap to cause problems for the collar counties).

And, that zeroing out the Valley Hi levy for a second year (next year’s tax bill will be down $3 million because the County Board cut the Valley Hi levy to zero) would result in the county’s not being able to raise more real estate tax money unless voters against passed a referendum.

I am not sure whether Snarski thinks the tax should be abolished or not; perhaps he will tell us in the comment section.

Jim Kearns

Jim Kearns

$40 million is a lot of excess in that account,” District 6 candidate Grafton Township Supervisor Jim Kearns said.

“We need to know how long it will last.”

He pointed out that in the almost three years he has headed Grafton Township, its General Assistance Fund levy has been lowered.

$40 million needs to be “pull” (that’s what my notes say, but reading it, that doesn’t make sense).

“No, I wouldn’t vote to levy more,” Kearns concluded.

Kelly Liebmann, also running in District 6, pointed out that Valley Hi pretty much paid its own way.

Kelly Liebmann

Kelly Liebmann

She said the funding gap appeared to be about $500,000 per year.

$41 million is a lot of money, she observed, suggesting that the surplus could last 80 years, then backing off to 40 years.

She said that expenditure level would give “Valley Hi plenty of time to come up with $500,000.”

I didn’t get a direct quote from her saying she would vote to zero out the Valley Hi budget, so perhaps she will tell us what I missed in the comment section.

Preston Rea, also from District 6, said,

“I think it is obscene having that much money in the fund.

“If you pull the levy way back, It’s difficult,” he added.

Ersel Schuster

Ersel Schuster

District 6 candidate Ersel Schuster said she didn’t think the County should be running a subsidized nursing home, but noted that the voters had approved it, so she thought the County should keep operating it.

She favored dropping “that levy back all the way.”

Kay Bates

Kay Bates

District 4’s Kay Bates, a non-incumbent like Wilcox, told the audience that the levy needed to be reduced.

She pointed out, however, that Valley Hi is “very important” to McHenry County.

Wilcox asked for the question to be read again so people could hear that $41,341,736.59 was in the fund.

He pointed out that the current County Board members would decide whether the tax would be teminated because of a zero levy for two years in a row.

“If they have reinstated it, you can bet I will be voting against it.”

Joe Calomino

Joe Calomino

District 5 candidate Joe Calomino pointed out that only 28 Illinois counties having county-owned nursing homes.

He said the changes in funding by Federal and State government could not be predicted.

“I believe a referendum is in order.”

Mike Skala

Mike Skala

Incumbent Mike Skala, District 5, said he had recommended that $3 million be cut over a two-year period.

That idea did not gain approval.

“Everybody on the County Board believes the $40 million is in excess,” he said.

There were five other questions some of which I may get to eventually.

District 6 incumbent Mary McCann did not attend the meeting.


District 4, 5 & 6 County Board Republican Candidates Face Public – Valley Hi’s $41.3 Million Surplus — 20 Comments

  1. Mary McCann should be eliminated from anyone’s consideration.

    It wasn’t important enough for her to be there, so she’s not important enough to cast a vote for.

  2. Preston Rae was the winner in District 6 last night.

    He is the best educated, with a Master’s Degree.

    He also is a “bridge builder” who knows how to work with everyone.

    He is upbeat, positive and friendly.

    Preston wants to put $40 million back into the economy from the surplus at Valley High, the county’s tax supported nursing home.

    I have worked personally with Preston and he is a good leader.

    Please vote for Preston Rae if you live in County Board District 6.

  3. The County (our country) has too many elected officials who fit into the category described by Moore:

    “a “bridge builder” who knows how to work with everyone”.

    We need people with a conscience and an attitude of willing to NOT build bridges to serve political goals.

    We need elected officials who are willing to step up to the plate and take a stand which represents We The People.

    We need to sell Valley Hi.

    Supporting Valley Hi is like supporting Obamacare.

    District 6 voters need to support the Liebmann – Schuster ticket if they want the best interest of the residents in D-6 represented.

    Rea is part of the ‘old guard’ and like Moore stated, will vote to get along – not vote to represent the taxpayers in D-6.

  4. I think building bridges is much better than tearing them down.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  5. I always get a kick out of the “labelers” that stand on the sidelines and lob hand grenades.

    This election for Dist. 6 is about issues not labels.

    I am fiscal and social conservative with a proven track record.

    I believe we need to attract employers with good paying jobs to stop the exodus of the middle class from the County.

    I am pro-life and have a strong value system that defines right from wrong.

    Bridge building is not about ignoring your core principles to get along.

    It is about developing working relationships with other Board members so they will listen and consider your point of view.

    A board member has only one vote which can not accomplish anything in itself.

    A Board member that has positive relationships can be persuasive and garner support from other Board members to move forward.

    If you agree with me, I would be honored to have your vote.

    If you don’t agree with me, I am not your man.

  6. I would like to hear Preston Rea and Jim Kearns answer if they were for township consolidation since they are supervisors of townships?

    And wondering if they are running to help prevent the county board from possibly consolidating them?

    I look forward to there answers.

  7. So let me get this right, Preston. Valley Hi has over levied McHenry County taxpayers to the tune of $40 Million Dollars.

    This is illegal and I can cite you a host of IL case law on the subject involving excessive taxation by municipalities and other governmental bodies.

    Now that Valley Hi through MCBOT has illegally but successfully taken this money from taxpayers through its compulsory system of taxation, Preston would like to take these ill-gotten gains and deposit them elsewhere rather than return these funds to its rightful owner, the taxpayer.

    When your 4 year old child steals a candy bar from the grocery store, you do not tell the child to give the candy bar to a person in need but rather back to its rightful owner because it is not the child’s candy bar to give away. The same with the Valley Hi funds which were illegally taken from taxpayers.

    From these answers, I say all these candidates are not worthy of our vote.

    Next Please!

  8. Mr. Rea. You are definitely not my man.

    You seem to be backed be the same limp wrist ESTABLISHMENT candidates that gave us Tryon and Althoff who go along to get along.

    We certainly DO NOT need more of the same.

    IMHO you are not a leader but a follower being backed by a bunch of weak kneed political hacks.

  9. Kearns biggest accomplishments avoiding the press and avoiding the office.


  10. Under no circumstances did I ever say the Valley High over taxation should not be returned to the tax payers.

    I have no idea where you would get such an idea.

    This is pure fiction.

    I am not for consolidation of Townships because no one has ever shown any savings of tax money.

    This concept is not new and has been studied before.

    I know there is no agency that can provide the services that Alden Township provides at a lower cost.

    I am running for County Board because I have wanted to do so for many years and this is the right time in my life to do so.

    Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions.

  11. D-6 needs a replacement for Evertsen.

    McCann needs to be canned.

    Vote for Liebmann and Schuster to replace both of them.

    The two males running will never be able to hold a candle to the representation provided by Evertsen but Schuster and Liebmann will.

  12. With your reply Mr. Rea.

    The argument was that one taxing body would increase in taxes and the other would not.

    So only half of the taxpayers from one township would benefit of the savings and the others would go up.

    So if the State of Illinois would pass a law stating that when consolidating townships that it can be decidedly so to use the lower taxing township. Would you be in favor of it then?

    Meaning that one taxing township would decrease and the other would stay the same i.e. lowering taxes for half of the county and the other staying the same would you be in favor then?

  13. Sue “Korndog” Draffkorn is pure P O I S O N for McHenry County taxpayers!

    Spit her out of office!

  14. Lookingforanswer<

    What he said was not other gov agency can deliver the same services for as cheap at a Twh does.

    He is correct, most of the other gov agencies are unionized, Twh's are not.

    Many of the twhs don't offer union type benefits either, and cost savings.

    Consolidation would mean higher travel times to get the job done, a cut in service or need to hire more perhaps.

    Yes we would save a tad on elected officials, but the other changes would force costs up easily off setting the savings.

    The Consolidation movement didn't have their act together, no real numbers, not many facts, and no real plan to implement.

    I'm sure if anybody could show real savings, a good plan that works, Preston and I would support keeping more money in our wallets.

    Fact is only cutting services will save any real $$$$.

    So what services you receive personally from the gov are you willing to have cut?

    Consolidation creates bigger gov, historically that means more waste and more tax $$$$.


  15. That is great then I want him running 2 or 3 Townships instead of one!

    He doesn’t have to hire everyone from all consolidated townships.

  16. Mr. Rea says “I am not for consolidation of Townships because no one has ever shown any savings of tax money”

    Why doesn’t he find an idea then to consolidate them and save the taxpayers money!

    If you don’t have ideas to save the taxpayers money then why run for the County Board?

    Status Quo is not what the taxpayers need!

  17. Status Quo is not what the taxpayers need! Agreed.

    We have what we have like it or not. To change without a good plan is not plan and will cost more.

    Sadly neither side wants to put in the time needed to prove their plan.

    If you have the time, go at it.

    It would be better to look at the whole of county wide services, not just a part.

    Way more time, but a good plan would require that.

    That whole deal was just a power play, don’t ya know.

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