ALAW Releases County Board Questionnaire

ALAW logo 2016For the past couple of election cycles, the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water has asked McHenry County Board candidates to complete questionnaires.

Here are the questions for this year:

ALAW Primary Election Survey, 2016 February 12, 2016

1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Volatile organic compounds used in manufacturing processes and found in cleaning solvents have contaminated the groundwater at the site of Arnold Engineering, Inc. operating on property owned by 300 West LLC in Marengo.. The groundwater is close to the surface in that location and infiltration rates are high. The contamination reportedly could reach as far as the Kishwaukee River.  Since groundwater does not stay in one place, we can assume that all water users tapping into the contaminated aquifer are at risk as well. Arnold Engineering and 300 West are under court order in a case filed in June 2013, to submit a remedial action plan. It appears from the record that the contamination goes back to 2008, but was not addressed at that time. Currently bottled water is being provided to the area residents. At least one farmer is moving because he has been ordered by the EPA to not irrigate his crops. The Illinois EPA has established a webpage, The property is in unincorporated McHenry County.

1. What responsibility does the County have to safeguard the environmental wellbeing of the land and  people from harm caused by manufacturing operations that it zones and permits? (25 words)

Water usage, past and future.

Water usage, past and future.

2. New rural development costs more for the extension of infrastructure (roads, water, sewer and services) than it brings to the County in taxes and those extra costs are passed on to the existing taxpayers. Would you support requiring new development to be located in or adjacent to existing infrastructure?

___yes ___no

3. County studies have been predicting serious water shortages for years as our aquifers become depleted, but the County has done very little to slow the “March of the Red Townships.” (see attachment–seen at right) What do you foresee as a solution when the aquifers reach levels that can no longer support existing development in these areas? What do you see as a way to avoid this crisis? (50 words)

4. By protecting agricultural lands and soil resources, groundwater and its natural recharge can also be protected. If elected, will you support permanent protection of agricultural land and the agricultural industry in the County?

___yes ___no

5.  Population in McHenry County has declined for the fourth year in a row.  With that in mind do you support the multi-million plan to expand 3½ miles of Randall Road, including the intersection at Route 62? Do you see a measurable benefit to taxpayers both local and countywide who are footing the bill in large part?

___yes ___no

6. During past primary elections, candidates for county offices voluntarily filled out the ALAW initiated Addendum to Statement of Economic Interests BEFORE the election. This form is now required once you are elected, but filing it now with us is entirely voluntary. ALAW will not endorse any candidate who does not fill out the form. Will you fill out and file your form with us now? (Form attached with mailing instructions.)

___yes (attached) ___ no


ALAW Releases County Board Questionnaire — 14 Comments

  1. Here the farm lobby goes again.

    For the last time, you guys are the largest consumer of groundwater, your unregulated wells are the largest single consumer of groundwater, and few of the voters share your interests.

    No honest politician should want your tainted NIMBY endorsement.

  2. “Great examples of the unwashed.”


    Because we’re skeptical of the skewed claims of a lobbying organization?

    Because, like all lobbying organizations, we know that the lobby’s goal is to advance its members interests to the detriment of the people in general?

  3. Hey! Boethius!

    Ask the residents in the Marengo area how their current environment, relative to ground water(Acquifer) contamination compares to Flint, MI.

    It would appear that you believe ALAW is a group representing the ag community.

    You could not be further off the mark!!

  4. Sorry, I must have been mistaken to assume that the Alliance for Land, Agriculture & Water represents agriculture.

  5. And so it does.

    That said, who worked the hardest to stop the ALAW drive for a water commission?

    Again, I repeat:

    “Ask the residents in the Marengo area how their current environment, relative to ground water(Acquifer) contamination compares to Flint, MI. “

  6. “Ask the residents in the Marengo area how their current environment, relative to ground water(Acquifer) contamination compares to Flint, MI.”

    It’s apples to oranges. The Flint, Michigan water crisis was brought about by government bureaucrats changing the source of municipal water from Great Lakes water (some of the best potable water in the world) to the Flint River.

    Are you implying that without ALAW’s lobbying efforts McHenry County municipalities would commit similar folly?

    I don’t think so.

    If we’re concerned about contaminated groundwater near the Arnold Engineering site in Marengo (assuming that the contamination was measured at a depth from which groundwater is drawn–I seriously doubt it) or other sites around the county, we have adequate remedies under existing state and federal laws (including CERCLA and with private causes of action for nuisance and trespass).

    Why isn’t the Illinois or US EPA doing something about this dirty site?

    If they are, what more could the government of McHenry County do to make the situation better?

    Don’t you think that state and federal regulatory authorities with vastly greater experience in dealing with environmental contamination and vastly greater resources could do a better job than Joe Gottemoller’s inept gang?

    No, what ALAW wants plain and simple is to advance their sinister goal of stifling development in McHenry County.

    Everything else they talk about is a flimsy pretext to advance that goal.

  7. This is disturbing, that these questions are being deflected in favor of non sequitur.

    I find the questions relevant and would like to know the answers.

  8. Yes, Susan, I also would like to know who all the big government, pro regulation, fake conservatives are.

  9. Rawdogger: Based on your posts on this blog, why don’t you tell us?

  10. Officeholders come and go, but the system which they create stays in place.

    Specific policy is the only relevant topic in my opinion.

    All distractions into ad hominem territory just serve to harm the people who are subject to harm by a system rigged to favor insiders.

  11. What “Economic Growth” can mean is the re-direction of public funds toward private interests –sales tax and property tax abatement, gifts and grants of land and cash—which are commonly owned resources of the community at large being funneled at the discretion of local political rulers to certain individual interests.

    Property tax burdens (for funding of schools and government) are thus shifted from commercial to residential properties.

    Whether or not the general principal has been applied successfully in other areas, the Specific strategy has NOT succeeded in many areas of McHenry County.

    I believe this is due to the inflection point of Property Tax Rate Black Hole being triggered.

    Below a certain property tax rate, communities can withstand some misapplication of public funds, because home values are buffered from the negative effect.

    Why buffered?

    Fungibility of housing investment value.

    Because at property tax rates within the normal range, individuals can afford the conversion between selling a house ‘here’ and buying a house ‘there’.

    Homes capitalize extremely high costs of carry (such as property tax rates which are more than double the national average), and so buying a house ‘here’ means falling further behind ‘normal’ home value each year the owner carries the cost of the house in excess of national averages.

    Once a certain property tax RATE is exceeded (at the inflection point), an Economic Black Hole is created.

    Black Holes exert a sucking force which overwhelms any other forces within its reach.

    Home prices can only decline relative to home values in other areas and relative to general inflation.

    “Economic Growth” is an ineffective force, in that it has no impact on the Economic Black Hole sucking force, which sucks all value from local (taxpaying) property.

    When property tax Rates exceed a certain number, home values are pressured lower, for two objective reasons:

    homeowners have an anti-incentive to spend money on improvements or upkeep and instead are racing to the bottom for their own tax assessment to be made lower than their neighbor’s,


    the pool of potential buyers for a home with anomalously high tax rates is severely diminished by the reduced capacity of more than 50% of potential buyers (median income households and lower–HALF the population) to qualify for conventional mortgages —the high tax rate causes the monthly mortgage payment to be higher than the allowed ratio for a conventional mortgage loan: 30% of household income.

    As home values spiral downward, the tax Rate climbs ever higher. (Tax Rate is Levy divided by EAV (which is equalized assessed value of taxable property within that taxing district).

    The lower the denominator, the higher the Rate. And as we all know, the numerator– Tax Levy– Never gets lower.

    If ‘Economic Development’ occurs, at the expense of property tax revenues re-routed away from schools toward developers, the tax Rate climbs ever higher.

    Fewer properties are left to pay the ever-climbing levy amount.

    When the Economic Black Hole exists, the community suffers home values dropping faster than national average ( or rising due to inflation but at a slower rate than national average).

    This is important because the ability of a property owner to convert from home equity ‘here’ to home equity ‘there” is significantly impaired, on a cumulative annual basis.

    The discretionary income demanded from each household in order to pay property taxes in excess of ‘normal’ rates has a chilling effect on local economy.

    Households are unable to save for retirement, or college funds for children, or must forego discretionary purchases such as eating out or fixing their roof.

    ‘Economic Development’ occurring at the expense of high-rate-property- taxpayers has what effect on the Economic Black Hole?

    EAV (denominator) does not rise if tax diversions ( i.e. TIFs) exist.

    If property tax money is diverted from schools, schools increase the tax burden on all other taxpayers to make up that deficit.

    Furthermore, 28% of ‘higher wage jobs’ differential goes to Federal and State government in payroll taxes, so is of no help to local community.

    An amount of 15% of ‘higher wage jobs’ differential’ (estimated for median income and below) is spent in a Black Hole Property Tax Community on property taxes.

    The remainder is unlikely to ever trickle into local economy (restaurants, landscapers, tax accountants) because unless wage differential is sufficiently high to impart ‘escape velocity’ to the new wage earners, the Black Hole Effect subsumes all the extra money, as normal (according to national average) household expenditures are once more affordable, and top of that priority list are savings for children’s college, and savings for the worker’s own retirement.

    My conclusion is that “Economic Growth” cannot occur in our Black Hole Property Tax Rate County without siphoning excessive public money (property tax dollars) toward lucky chosen recipients.

    When we weigh the costs and benefits to the citizens of the community who must PAY for the ‘economic growth’ , it is a losing proposition.

    What then, instead?

    Every penny of public funds should be conserved/diverted toward driving the property tax rate back below the inflection point.

    What is the inflection point of property tax rate?
    in my opinion:

    1. the tax rate at which a median income household can qualify for a conventional mortgage loan on a median value home.

    2. the percentage of median household income required to pay property taxes on a median value home exceeding 4% MORE than national average (national average is 3.6% in 2015)

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