John Pletz in a Paul Revere Mode: District 155 Taxes Are Going Up, If You Don’t Call Your School Board Member

Wednesday, former Crystal Lake High School Board candidate John Pletz wrote a letter to the Northwest Herald. He has given McHenry County Blog permission to republish it.

2017 Levy Increase LTE

Community High School District 155’s board has voted to tentatively raise your taxes, again.

Don’t like it?

Call 815-455- 8500, email, and write to

  1. Adam Guss
  2. Ron Ludwig
  3. Amy Blazier
  4. Dave Secrest and
  5. Nicole Pavoris

at One South Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, IL 50014.

Make sure you thank

  1. Rosemary Kurtz and
  2. Jason Blake

for standing up for you.

John Peltz

The final vote will occur on November 21 st at 7:30 PM at One South Virginia Road in Crystal
Lake, IL.

Show up or shut up and remember to be respectful.

Every school board member serves because they care about our community and give countless hours away from their families and their jobs, to serve our community.

They receive no money for what they do.

Do you really dislike this continuous taxation?

Run for the school board and start attending meetings now, so as to be somewhat educated.

Share your pain, they just don’t understand.

And tell all your neighbors and friends to do likewise.


John Pletz in a Paul Revere Mode: District 155 Taxes Are Going Up, If You Don’t Call Your School Board Member — 26 Comments

  1. I believe they are told they must raise taxes to the max because every year in the future, there will be price escalation of current and retired employee entitlement payments.

    These COLA payment escalations have exceeded inflation every year for the past decade, that is called “evidence based” projection that in the future this will continue.

    Now that Illinois Pension Shift has been accomplished, local tax/debt burdens will escalate at a parabolic rate.

    This levy increase is necessary in order for all future levy increases, every year forever, to be accomplished at maximum nominal effect.

    The question you should ask school board members is, what educational, transportation and maintenance programs are they planning to cut in the near future to pay for teacher and administrators’ multimillion dollar present value guaranteed annuities for Pension and insurance premium payments from age 53 onward?

  2. Close Central HS and the admin office. Lay people off. Do something to cut expenses before you ask for another cent. Next teachers contract should raise the retirement age to not less than 60 or 65 unless the pension is lowered to reflect “early” retirement. I will be emailing the school board. While townships, villages and county make cuts, the school continues ever higher keeping taxes high and the value of your home and the chance of ever selling it, low.

  3. Where is the Jack Franks Cut 10 proposal for CHSD 155?

    Or was that just a campaign gimmick.

  4. State law dictates the age at which employees can retire in the pension systems (TRS & IMRF) to receive benefits.

    The resulting pension is a state liability (responsibility) for TRS (teachers and certified administrators).

    Most administrators are certified.

    IMRF pensions are a local liability.


    CHSD 155 now lifestreams board meetings, and archives them on YouTube.


    One of the best actions property taxpayers can take in CHSD 155 is to insist the board posts board agenda packets prior to board meetings.

    The agenda packets should be searchable (allow use of find feature) and allow copy from the packet and paste to another packet.

    An agenda packet is one Adobe pdf document that contains all the documents to be discussed and voted on at the board meeting.

    It is basically impossible for taxpayers to monitor a school district without access to those documents.

    Lack of an agenda packet is an indication there is no effective taxpayer advocate in CHSD 155.

    If the Village of Lakewood can post board agenda packets, certainly CHSD 155 can do so also.

    It should be a state law for school districts to post a board agenda packet prior to a board meetings.

    But it is not.

    Can’t really say it is a “well run district” if they don’t have access to documents being discussed at board meetings?

    Looking at financial reports and budgets gives one a general idea, but without easy access to specific documents, it’s very difficult to understand what is going on with specific issues.

    At the very least it is a courtesy to the taxpayer to present to the taxpayers such documents.

  5. Public Union employees have a vested interest in enriching themselves.

    It takes an extraordinary person to work against their own interests to serve the higher ideal of healthy communities, states and nation.

    Most public Union employees do not fall into the altruistic category.

    Talk to them.

    Read every post everywhere by them.

    Their generalized interest is to get as much as they can for themselves while impoverishing their neighbors to the point of abject poverty.

    This is not new to the human condition.

    The Founders put checks and balances in place to keep the government and her minions from enriching themselves to the detriment of our society if subsequent generations had the courage to be involved in their own well being.

    For the most part our Citizenry has become less knowledgeable about government and more likely to abdicate responsibilities within the sole purview of a Citizen to the ones who would subjugate them.

    The popular phrasing is there are precious few sheepdogs to fight off the wolves who would eat the sheep.

    It seems a losing battle when people actually believe schools, libraries, police, fire or health care is “free” or can be had for “the price of a cup of coffee”.

    The level of self delusion to believe such is spectacular.

    Start by stopping the expectation an ESL teacher who makes more for a part time job than executives make for an 80 hour a week job and has health care and retirement income 90% of the rest of the population will ever have will ever do anything but forward the false narrative he’s not eating the sheep as he spreads mint jelly on their dead bodies.

    Get involved as Susan and Mark and Cal and so many others do.

    Those who aren’t on the government dole, whether it’s corporate welfare or living assistance or full birth to earth bought and paid for public Union types, are getting to be less and less.

    But they are where the fight can be if they can be educated.

    Come join the fight for your survival, or get used to the smell of mint jelly and the pain of the government nomming on your dying carcass.

  6. Does know if the information is available to find out how much tax payers are paying to ‘pick up’ teachers pension contributions?

    I really would like to understand how much, per teacher, per school, we are paying to offset the teacher required % into the pension system.

    Obviously if enrollment has been steadily declining, then we need to restructure the schools and start having a corresponding amount of layoffs and even school closures.

    This is what happens when the younger generation is not going to move into IL and our school districts as they cannot afford these taxes, which is because of the unsustainable pension funds. Raising taxes will only continue to devaluation of our homes, which was supposed to be an investment. With everything going on in this State, I cannot believe that we are not trying to make the necessary changes in order to cope with the times.

    That is the problem with these Unions, they only care about themselves, even if the end results could be complete bankruptcy of those funds for their people.

    Let’s keep a close eye on Hartford, CT as that will give us an idea of how IL could possibly play out as they are saying by next month, they very well could seek Chapter 9, much like Detroit.

  7. Mark, Cal has sucked on the government breast all his life.

    Are you sure you want him involved in your crusade?

    He still sticks it to you at the tune of 75,000 each year that he takes a breath.

    If I remember correctly he only served 24 years for this bag of gold.

  8. “Public Union employees have a vested interest in enriching themselves.” Our very own second coming of William F. Buckley, Jr. is at it again. Perhaps it is forever forgotten corporations are inhumane algorithms for making a profit that will stop for nothing; but in compassionate conservative minds it is more important to be protected against labor unions…tic, tock, tic, tock

  9. Mark, all OPEB are local obligations already.

    Now, mew hires 38% additional must be local contributions on top of 8% already being paid on behalf to trs, no?

    Also all unfunded trs pension liability became local burden going forward, no?

  10. There are several State Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) aka retiree healthcare obligations.

    Regarding school districts, it is THIS / TRIP.

    THIS = Teachers’ Health Insurance Security

    TRIP = Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program

    For the year beginning July 1, 2016, the Employer THIS contribution was 1.12 percent, and the employee THIS contribution was 0.84 percent.


    In addition to that, some school district provide extra retiree health insurance in some administrator contracts.

    Such extra health insurance is locally funded.


    Regarding new hires 38% additional must be local contributions on top of 8% already being paid on behalf to TRS.

    What is 38%?

    The employer TRS contribution on federally funded salary for the one year beginning July 1, 2016 was 38.54 percent.

    A recent state law (was it the 2017 education funding reform law, Senate Bill 1947 which was signed into law as Public Act 100-0465?) eliminated that.

    The 8% is the teacher / administrator contribution to TRS if there is no employer pick-up, or some combination of 8% if there is a pickup?

    Unless there is a full or partial pension pickup by the employer on behalf of the employee, the employee contribution to TRS is 9%.

    That 9% is broken down:

    7.5% Retirement Benefits

    0.5% Post Retirement Increases (COLA)

    1.0% Survivor Benefits (refundable upon request to the teacher / administrator at retirement if not utilized)


    The 0.4% Early Retirement Option (ERO), which brought the employee contribution to 9.4%, ended June 30, 2016 as a result of ERO not being renewed by the state legislators.

    ERO was in effect from July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2016.

    If ERO was not utilized while it was in effect, the 0.45 was also refunded to the teacher / administrator upon request at retirement.


    There was no pension shift from state to local for the annual “State” contribution to the TRS pension fund for either:

    1) the “normal” (current year) cost or

    2) the portion of the annual contribution attributable to the unfunded liability,

    as a result of legislation this year.

  11. (Btw, Woodstock D200 public tax money pays all but 1% of 9.4% “employee contribution”)

  12. Susan, my understanding is that the new Tier III TRS program has yet to be reviewed and approved by the IRS.

    Not until this occurs will the program become effective and TRS determines what the contribution rates will be.

  13. Thank you for clarification.

    What does the smart money think, will it pass?

  14. Did the teachers’ union candidate win all the seats on the D155 Board, adding to the two it won two years ago?

  15. Here is more detail on the two pieces from the comments beginning October 27th at 7:15PM.

    First, the legislation was Senate Bill 0042 (SB 42), which was signed into law as Public Act 100-0023 (PA 100-0023).

    That is generally known as the budget implementation law (BIMP) for the state fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018).

    The legislation became law on July 6, 2017 when the House overrode the Governor Rauner’s veto of the bill (the Senate overrode the veto on July 4th).

    A portion of that law shifts a small portion of the annual state pension contribution to TRS, from the state, to local taxpayers.

    The shift from State to Local is for the TRS pension cost due to the portion of any school district salary that exceed the Governor’s salary.

    Not sure if the new law applies to just the TRS pension system or also the IMRF pension system.


    The language in the public act which enables that shift begins on pages 329 & 357 and reads as follows:

    “For the academic years beginning on or after July 1, 2017,

    if the amount of a participant’s earnings for any school year,

    determined on a full-time equivalent basis,

    exceeds the amount of the salary set for the Governor,

    the participant’s employer shall pay to the System,

    in addition to all other payments required under this Section and in accordance with guidelines established by the system,

    an amount determined by the System to be equal to the employer normal cost,

    as established by the system and expressed as a total percentage of payroll,

    multiplied by the amount of earnings in excess of the amount of the salary set for the Governor.

    This amount shall be computed by the System on the basis of the actuarial assumptions and tables used in the most recent actuarial valuation of the System that is available at the time of the computation.

    The System may require the employer to provide any pertinent information or documentation.

    Whenever it determines that a payment is or may be required under this subsection, the System shall calculate the amount of the payment and bill the employer for that amount.

    The bill shall specify the calculations used to determine the amount due.

    If the employer disputes the amount of the bill, it may, within 30 days after the receipt of the bill, apply to the System in writing for a recalculation.

    The application must specify in detail the grounds of the dispute.

    Upon receiving a timely application for recalculation, the System shall review the application and, if appropriate, recalculate the amount due.

    The employer contributions required under this subsection may be paid in the form of a lump sum within 90 days after receipt of the bill.

    If the employer contributions are not paid within 90 days after receipt of the bill, then interest will be charged at a rate equal to the System’s annual actuarially assumed rate of return on investment compounded annually from the 91st day after receipt of the bill.

    Payments must be concluded within 3 years after the employer’s receipt of the bill.”


    Now to introduce Tier III.

    The language on page 348 refers to Section 1-161, which is the new Tier III that has not yet been approved by the IRS.

    Section 1-161 is on page 270, which begins as:

    40 ILCS 5/1-161 new

    Sec 1-161

    Optional benefits for certain Tier 2 members under Articles 14, 15, and 16.


    Article 14 – State Employment Retirement System (SERS)

    Article 15 – State University Retirement System (SURS)

    Article 16 – Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS)


    Here is a TRS article, dated July 10, 2017, about Tier III and other provisions in SB 42 / PA 100-0023 that apply to TRS, including the shift from state to local for employer pension contributions of highly compensated employees.


    Now back to the employer pension contributions of highly compensated employees.

    That article contains the following language about the cost shift of highly compensated school district employees:

    “In addition, local school districts will pay more of the cost of a member’s pension if that member’s salary is equal to or greater than the governor’s statutory salary of about $180,000.

    The district will be responsible for paying the actuarial cost of the portion of the member’s pension that exceeds $180,000.”


    The ridiculously convoluted public sector pension laws in Illinois became more convoluted.

    Although have never seen a study on the topic, Illinois has to be a leader in changes to public sector pension laws.

    Pension laws are supposed to be predictable and stable.

    In Illinois, pension legislation was used as a political tool to hike benefits to obtain or payback votes, election assistance, and campaign contributions.

    The resulting hiked benefits could not diminished or impaired for any employee or retiree, only rescinded for future employees.

    The benefit hikes had nothing to do with can taxpayers afford the hikes or how will the hikes be paid, since that bill comes incrementally due in decades to follow.

    For political cover, a legislative body named COGA issues reports stating the benefit hikes are not the main the problem, the main problem is the taxpayers have not paid enough money.

    Which is like saying repeatedly charging the credit card carrying a balance (legislative benefit hikes to underfunded pensions) is not the main problem, the main problem is the credit card bill is not being paid.

    So Illinois political solution solution to the pension problem is more legislation chipping at the fringes of the main problem.

    That is not close a real solution.

  16. The Illinois Education Association (IEA, the state affiliate) and the High School District 155 Education Association (local affiliate) endorsed three of the four winning candidates in the April 4, 2017 High School District 155 school board election.

    The endorsed candidates were Ron Ludwig, Jason Blake, and Nicole Pavoris.

    The fourth elected candidate, incumbent David Secrest, was not endorsed, but was invited along with the winning candidates to the local teacher union Meet the Candidates Night that was held on March 20, 2017 at Crystal Lake Brewing Tap Room.

    The other candidates were not invited to the event.


    Northwest Herald

    March 18, 2017

    Crystal Lake Based District 155 Education Association Hosting Meet the Candidates Night

    by Nate Linhart


    The President of the local Crystal Lake High School District 155 teacher union, Devin Hester, was quoted in the Northwest Herald as saying the following:

    “‘Our slate is for academic excellence and fiscal responsibility,’ Hester said.

    ‘Taxes are high.

    We don’t advocate raising taxes.'”

    Here is the article containing that quote:

    Northwest Herald

    March 24, 2017

    by Brett Rowland


    The teacher union endorsed candidates were elected to the school board.

    Are those school board members speaking against or voting against property tax hikes?

    It has been reported the school board is advocating that property taxes be hiked.

    There has been nothing in the press about the the CHSD 155 teacher union President, Devin Hester, and the teacher union speaking against CHSD 155 raising property taxes.

    If the union wanted its voice heard about the matter, all they would have to do is issue a press release or grant an interview to the Northwest Herald, and surely the Northwest Herald would publish an article.


    Jack Franks campaigned on a pledge that all property taxing districts reduce their levy (and thus presumably extension and thus property taxes) by 10%.

    Jack Franks is not speaking against CHSD 155 raising property taxes.


    The results to local McHenry County elections are found in the summary canvass reports on the county clerk website.


    Two of the four incumbents up for the April 4, 2017 CHSD 155 school board election did not seek re-election: Board President Ted Wagner and Vice President Gary Oberg.

    The other two incumbents were David Secrest (re-elected) and Ann Somers (not re-elected).

    The other losing candidates were Raphael Kamner, Donna Kurtz, John Pletz, and Scott Vetter.

    Raphael Kamner, Donna Kurtz, John Pletz, and Scott Vetter ran as a slate of reformers.

  17. typo in the 10/29 comment at 11:59 am.

    The legislative body (legislative branch of Illinois state government) is COGFA (not COGA).

    COGFA = Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.


    No surprise that a branch of legislative government does not place a primary responsibility for the underfunded pensions on the legislative government.

    Another primary responsibility is the local salary hikes.


    To hike pension payout, hike the benefits and hike the salaries.

    That should be common sense when someone thinks about it.


    But the hikes are buried in state law (house bills, senate bills, public acts, Illinois Complied Statutes aka pension code) and local collective bargaining agreements and administrator agreements.

    Ample public review of those documents before they are approved are about as transparent as a black hole.

    Even after the fact, it’s not easy to review what transpired.

    How many people have the knowledge to interpret those documents?

    The elected officials do not adequately disclose in an easy to locate and easy to understand fashion, much less provide examples, of what is occurring and has occurred.

    That’s not part of state law.


    So although the taxpayers vote for the elected officials, there is no true taxpayer accountability of the process of approving benefit hikes and salary hikes.

    The process is flawed.

    Sure the taxpayers can fight the special interest and attempt to vote the elected officials out of office.

    But the taxpayers don’t have the proper documentation to even figure out what transpired in an easy to locate easy to understand fashion, and once they get it, it is water over the dam and a battle.

    One one side is unorganized taxpayers.

    On the other side is organized special interest groups and those with specialized knowledge.

    Hide and seek, kick the can, catch me if you can.

    It’s a big game.

  18. November 21 st at 7:30 PM at One South Virginia Road in Crystal Lake, IL.

    The Mrs
    Tom ***

    Forgive me if I missed someone.

    Show up and speak, the board deserves your opinion.

    And I would enjoy meeting each of you at the meeting.

    Especially you Tom, because I enjoy people who take my mind where it’s not gone before and you differ from me and I’d be grateful for the opportunity to see the world from you perspective.

    I just left a voice message for County Board Chairman, Jack Franks and invited him to show up as well.

    Although I know he would have a conflict, because the county board meeting is on the same night as the school board.

    Please join me inviting Mr. Franks to this opportunity to help fullfill his mission to cut taxes. Call his office at (815) 338-6363.

    What an oportunity to preach his cut taxes message.

    If anyone wants some stats and numbers, please email me and I will be willing to share what I’ve gleaned so far.

    Respectfully, John Pletz

  19. thanks for invitation.

    I’m in Woodstock D200 and if you think YOU have it bad…
    if you would like to contact me I’ll tell you the data you’ll need to collect and start following to catch up with your problem before it runs away from you.

    If you let the state of taxation get as bad as Woodstock (4.2% property tax rate. I think you in CL are still in low 3% range?), CL property will enter the same negative feedback loop of property value destruction leading to higher tax rates leading to lower property values and so forth.

    You may have time, as you seem to have a fair amount of community participants still willing to get involved.

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