Details of Jack Franks’ Cut 10

Readers have been analyzing the McHenry County Board’s property tax levy vote.

Here’s what Swampbuggy found:

Bottles of water with Lying Jack Franks Cut 10 sticker affixed.

That is correct Casey.

Most of the tax was just abated so it doesn’t limit the county under the tax cap for future increases.

Furthermore, about 90% of that was “windfall”, ie, money that was coming off anyway because the county was no longer paying off a bond (5 to 6 Million per year), was able to take the Valley Hi levy off the books for one year without losing the levy authority (over 2 Million), and savings at the Mental Health Board (500K) due to past reform efforts and new appointments to the MHB by previous County Boards.

Other savings occurred because of long running efforts by elected officials and department heads to take advantage of technology or otherwise clean house from their predecessors (250K Sheriff, 150K Clerk of Court, 100K I.T. Dept., plus new Recorder and savings by Coroner).

Virtually none of the 11.2% property tax reduction was due to efforts of the current Board or Chairman.

However, the county is now looking at having to spend another 5 Million per year over 5 years for work on the courthouse complex so that will go right back on unless other funding sources and/or savings can be found.

That and the Valley Hi levy will have to be taken again as it can only be skipped in alternate years. So you are looking at a 7.5 Million increase for next year.

Kick the can anyone?


Details of Jack Franks’ Cut 10 — 54 Comments

  1. So if Mike was elected instead, what would the levy be for next year?

  2. Probably the same, but there would not be the additional cumulative cost burden of ~$170,000 annually for unneeded patronage employees.

  3. From what I’m reading, it seems it would of been less of a levy reduction or another flat levy in antisipation of building repairs.

    I also wonder what is anticipated change for the following years levy will be, according to the author?

  4. In addition to the ~$170,000 superfluous spending for patronage employees who do nothing
    (nothing according to FOIA of work product at least, response to which only stated that they had worked the required number of hours, but provided no detail on work produced))
    to benefit County taxpayers, there is superfluous expense of Parliamentarian attorney, which was never necessary with prior County Board Chairmen.

  5. It’s not the levy that is all important.

    Focusing on the property tax levy is popular because people don’t notice the other taxes as much and the levy falls harder on those with fixed incomes who own homes.

    The important issue is the size of the budget.

    The county budget is paid for by literally dozens of different taxes, some local, some regional (RTA tax) and also state and federal (grants).

    It’s harder to fudge the budget.

    It is what it is.

    During the past 5 years the county government budget has gone down by about ten percent overall.

    This is mostly due to employee attrition as more tasks can now be automated.

    The County Board and whatever Chairmen have been there have had very little to do with that, although it is fair to say that the overall tone has been more tax and budget conscious since the 2012 redistricted elections and this has percolated out.

    Also there has been a near complete changing of the guard with the elected officials (Sheriff, States Attorney, Coroner, Recorder, Clerk, Clerk of Court, Treasurer), with long time entrenched officials being replaced by new people who are more budget conscious.

    The real question is how much is county government costing, what are the functions that the county should be doing, and can it be done more cheaply.

    It is possible to play all sorts of games with the tax levy (ie. taking the Valley Hi levy in alternate years so it looks like a reduction in one year and an increase in the other).

    Illinois has chosen to fund schools primarily with local tax revenues.

    This allows local citizens to have more control over local schools but also means that school districts have to levy more property taxes since, unlike other local governments, they don’t have other tax revenue options.

    The schools have also probably not been good at keeping their budgets in line because few people are looking at them.

    School boards are elected in low turnout off year elections which allows a small group of interested people (id. parents with children in school, teachers, unions) to stack the elections.

    If you really want to do something about property taxes specifically, you need to pay more attention to the school board elections and work on getting better voter turnout from tax concerned people who normally skip these constests.

    This, unfortunately, takes a lot of effort.

  6. Never like these across the board cuts because it fails to change the paradigm on how county government is run and the cost of it.

    In order to meet the 10 percent cost reduction some of these agencies may reach into their reserve cash and then cry poor next year.

    Further, when the numbers are analyzed, one agency may be able to reduce expenditures now and into the future by more than 10 percent while another could not without serious compromise in services.

    These across the board cuts are a sign that MCCB is unwilling to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work, instead relying upon gimmicks.

  7. Property taxes are not voluntarily controllable, except to the extent that one can elect to let one’s home (or owned rental property ) deteriorate to the extent that the assessed value is likely to be lowered on appeal.

    Other taxes of which you speak are voluntarily controllable; one can choose to NOT shop locally (sales taxes, gasoline taxes), NOT speed or incur other civil penalty taxes, and NOT build new development in a community with local property tax rate above 4% (with Chicago ~2% and America ~1.2%).

    Property taxes are directly correlated to all local taxing bodies, including County government and including local school districts.

    Believe me, some people are trying desperately to get through to the school boards about the life-altering devastation they are wreaking with their profligate spending.

    But just because one taxing body is MORE destructive to its community than another does not excuse the second place offender.

  8. There is going to become a mass exodus even more so when this new Federal Tax Plan comes into play.

    Republicans in Illinois and I am sure in other Democratic States are leaving for greener pastures.

    Don’t be surprised if Wisc., N.C., Fla even Iowa and Missouri start becoming more and more Republican.

    In this part of Illinois many Republicans are moving to Wisc. and Indiana to stay close to families. Wisc. is booming in the real estate market for homes above $200k where homes under $200k in McHenry county are selling the most.

    Ask Democrats that moved out of ILL and live in Fla or other less property tax run states and they all say they love it!

    But they hate Republicans in those states.

    Ironic that they want to change those states.

    In the next 10 yrs don’t be surprised if McHenry County is more Dems anyway.

    Back to the post..

    If Jack gets his way McHenry County will be in a bigger world of hurt!

    This has everything to do with power and Jack loves Power!

    He has more than he ever thought he could get but that is because to many on the board are talking behind closed doors to further advance their own political careers or just wanting to stay on the board itself.

    Others are just plain afraid of Jack if they vote against his wishes.

    Cutting the board to 12 increases the power to every individual 10 fold and much easier to buy off 7 instead of 13.

  9. It is apparent that Chairman Franks has never heard of the “80-20” rule nor the “vital few and the trivial many” rule.

    Application of these shows that the majority of problems, defects, spending, etc of an entity are attributable to one, two or three causes.

    In the case of McHenry County, the majority of a homeowner’s real estate tax bill is due to school districts.

    “Majority” meaning two-thirds to 70 percent of the bill.

    What can the Chairman of McHenry County do to streamline school districts, consolidate them to eliminate redundancy and eliminate unneeded positions/jobs in those districts should be the issue.

    Also, what can Chairman Franks do to cut back on the outrageously high salaries, benefits and pensions of teachers and so-called administrators in the school districts.

    School districts’ waste, redundancy, compensation are the “low-hanging” fruit that politicians could use, if they wanted to, to cut homeowners’ very high real estate tax bills.

  10. What about the estimated future cost for the county’s portion of the Interstate 90 / State Route 23 full interchange to be built in Marengo?

  11. sayitaintso is right on the money!

    Thank you Jack Franks for your ‘work’ in Springpatch and Woodstock ruining our State!

  12. The new tax law disallows deductions for propertt tax/State tax above $10,000.

    In Woodstock IL, property tax bills alone account for $8000 on a fairly assessed $200,000 home.

    At 5% State income tax rate, a median income salary pays $2500-$3000 income tax to Illinois.

    Mortgage lenders might be asked to incorporate a rule demanding that this new drain on household income be incorporated into lending ratios of mortgage applicants, so taxpayers don’t get stuck with the bill for another mortgage crisis bailout.

  13. Road money comes out of Motor Fuel taxes and RTA, and state and federal dollars, not property taxes.

    Also, the County can’t do anything about school district boundaries, school salaries, etc.

    They can’t even get rid of the useless Regional Superintendent of Schools.

    To do that you have to become a state legislator.


  14. Can anyone tell me what Jack Franks did as a State Rep for the citizens of McHenry County?

    He was in there for 18 yrs. and he complains that taxes are to high however, the best place to decrease taxes whether it be Schools, County etc. is to fix Springfield.

    He was part of the majority party every year he was in office! What did you get? Nothing but a politician!

    Can someone tell me how people vote for Jack Franks? Republicans none the less are fooled by this man!

    People need to start talking to their friends to expose him for what he is and we have to start in ASAP! He is a power hungry little man.

  15. To be fair to Jack, I don’t think anyone who goes to Springfield can do anything, regardless of what party they are in, unless their name is Madigan.

    Until he leaves, nothing will get done.

    Rauner has found that out.

    What Franks did once he got there was to introduce dozens upon dozens of “headline bills”, which are bills that sound good but are known in advance to be DOA.

    Or they will pass in one chamber and be killed in the other.

    But all people remember is the headline so they think the bills passed.

    He is doing something similar as Board Chairman.

    The pensions for elected officials are a case in point.

    Anyone who did the most basic research or even called IMRF would know that the Board cannot eliminate pensions for elected officials under state law.
    He persisted with this even after being told by the Lou Kosiba, head of IMRF, that was the case.

    It was not until Kosiba showed up at the Board meeting and signed up to speak, that he pulled the idea.

    Now the HR Committee is looking into a much more sensible solution of offering a voluntary plan which does not require a ten year tenure to vest, if the official forgoes IMRF.

    This may be more attractive as the official does not have to be re-elected two more times to vest in the pension.

    However, there is no headline on this.

    So “government by headline grab” is what we are looking at with the “Cut Ten.”

    Franks has conveniently shifted the implied promise to cut ALL property taxes to cutting only the “county portion” of the property taxes, and then only probably for one year by taking advantage of savings that were already in place before he took office.

    But the headline will read that he “fulfilled his campaign promise.”

    The headline is all that matters in politics.

  16. I believe the County spends property tax dollars on Transportation in addition to the other tax money mentioned.

    “…The program aims to implement goals set in the county’s 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, which include relieving congestion, improving safety, preserving the environment and linking transportation to land use.

    The transportation program includes $212.6 million in project expenditures, including:

    • $41.6 million for the Randall Road Program,

    • $30.6 million for an interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90,

    • $30.6 million for rehabilitating and replacing bridges,

    • $27.9 million for roadway pavement preservation and resurfacing,

    • $15.3 million for roadway safety improvements,…”

  17. The cost of the interchange is split between the City of Marengo, McHenry County (the county unit of government), the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA), and maybe other entities.

    ISTHA is a unit of state government.


    starting page 169 transportation budget

    The expenditures on a second tollway exit in Marengo nearby another exit in (sparsely populated) Marengo disproportionately rewards large landowners in that area.

    Any transportation money spent on that project is money NOT spent on needed road repairs, and public (road) safety projects.

  19. I see Swampbuggy’s point about the futility of Ill. reps and senators as long as Madigan holds sway, but still The Great Deceiver (Jacko Franks) did us all a disservice with his creepy powergrabs and self-aggrandizements.

    One night I was at a Marian HS affair and Franks dissembled he was a Christian. I wonder what his rabbi would say about that?

  20. I predict a heavy industrial high-water-use project is the end game.

    Seeing as how the County Board was deafeningly silent on the Oakwood Hills Power Plant incursion
    (daily water use in excess of the entire City of Crystal Lake possible for the proposed plant production capacity, and water is FREE to the user once zoning is obtained),
    and there is no substantive oversight of water use, the end game for that highway access ramp is predictable.

  21. Correction: MOST of the County Board was silent.

    A few Board Members were rightfully concerned about the project strip-mining ground water from our land-locked County and showed up to do what they could to squelch the project.

  22. The Northwest Herald article has a link to the county’s 2018 – 2022 Transportation program.


    Northwest Herald

    McHenry County Adopts 5 Year Transportation Program

    by Ed Komenda

    November 29, 2017


    McHenry County Division of Transportation

    McHenry County 2018 – 2022 Transportation Program

    Approved November 14, 2017


    Pdf page 17 (Executive Summary page 9) of the 2018 – 2022 Transportation Program document indicates $122 million of county expenditures from 2018 – 2022.

    Pdf page 20 (Executive Summary page 12) of the 2018 – 2022 Transportation Program document indicates $112 million of county revenue from 2018 – 2022.

    What is the source of revenue for the $10M shortfall?

    There is no mention of bonds in the document.


    This plan is dated about 1 year from County Board Chair Jack Franks taking his oath of office on December 5, 2016.

  23. Here is the breakdown of all expenditure sources from the McHenry County Division of Transportation 2018 – 2022 Transportation Program plan:

    County – $122M

    State – $10.8M

    Federal – $55.3M

    Local / Other – $8.3M

    Tollway – $16.2M

    Total – $212.6M

    That is on pdf page 17 (Executive Summary page 9).


    The Northwest Herald article did not mention the total revenue, expenditures, and $10M shortfall for the county portion of that $212.6M.

    Maybe source of revenue for the the missing $10 million is noted somewhere in the 130 page 5 year Transportation Plan.


    The McHenry County Division of Transportation put out a five year Transportation Program with a county shortfall of $10M that was approved by the county board?

    The plan is unbalanced?

    Expenditures exceed revenues?

  24. Pdf page 20 (executive summary page 14) of the document indicates FY 2018 – FY 2022 expenditures of $212.6M & revenues of $204.1M, for a shortfall of $8.5M, a difference of 4%.


    So the county portion is short $10M, and the overall total is short $8.5M.

    This all assumes various projections will come true.

    A plan with expenses exceeding revenues is not a taxpayer friendly plan.

  25. Pdf page 93 (State Highway Program Page 85) contains a sentence of interest to Marengo and county taxpayers.

    “The City of Marengo has committed to repaying McHenry County for its share of the interchange costs through a value capture mechanism, which will be defined in the upcoming intergovernmental agreement between the partner agencies.”


    When can taxpayers expect to learn more about the value capture mechanism and the intergovernmental agreement?

    Would the value capture mechanism be similar to a tax increment finance (TIF) district?

  26. Mark, how many miles of roads does the county maintain and how many total do the townships maintain?

  27. “County money” is not the same thing as “property tax money”.

  28. Money spent on the I90/Ill 23 interchange no doubt will be beneficial to the McHenry County and Kane and DeKalb County economies over the long haul.

    Look at the I90/Randall road interchange.

    Before any ramps were built there, Randall Road was 2-lane and there was nothing in that area except farmland.

    Look at it now with all of the development.

  29. 50
    McHenry County LONG RANGE Transportation Plan McHenry County 2040 2040
    There has been a shift in use of taxes by McHenry County. In 2007, project
    funding for the McHenry County Division of Transportation was funded 77% with
    a combination of State Motor Fuel Tax and County Option Motor Fuel Tax, and
    23% from property taxes allocated to two funds, the Bridge and Matching funds.
    By 2012, motor fuel taxes accounted for only 46%, property taxes equaled 10%,
    and sales tax collected through the County RTA Sales Tax equaled 44% of tax
    revenues (see Figure 53).
    When taking into account inflation and needed debt service resulting from the
    County using alternative debt revenue bonds to finance the Algonquin Road
    widening project, the County’s tax revenues in 2012 available for transportation
    projects was down slightly ($200,000) from 2007. The County’s tax revenues for
    transportation are not able to keep pace with inflation.
    2007 Actual
    ($12.9 Million for Projects)
    2012 Actual in 2007 Dollars ($18.3-$5.5
    Debt Payments = $12.7 Million for
    RTA for Debt
    21% Bridge
    Figure 53: Transportation Project Funding for McHenry County

  30. Significant amounts of property tax money is used for road projects.

    And, there is already an exchange at rte. 20 and I90.

    If that did nothing for Marengo economy, why expect a different one a few miles away will do anything?

  31. The development near the interchange of I90 and Illinois US 20 is the domain of Kane County and nearby small town, Hampshire.

    Downtown Marengo is about 10 miles from I90 and US20. US20 is a miserable and dangerous drive from I90 to the outskirts of Marengo.

    I90 and Ill 23 is about 5 miles from downtown Marengo and the intersection is within McHenry County domain and Marengo annexed property near that intersection.

    Marengo and McHenry County seek development at I90 and Ill 23.

    Not sure what Kane County did to spur development at I90 and US 23 other than gas stations, fast food and truck stops.

  32. Last sentence should read: “Not sure what Kane County did to spur development at I90 and US 20 other than gas stations, fast food and truck stops”.

  33. I don’t know what you mean by ‘miserable and dangerous’ drive.

    That seems an odd statement.

    Your argument that Kane County is responsible for development/or/not is sophistry.

    McHenry County line is quite close to the I90 Rte 20 intersection.

    And Randall Rd. travels through one County much further distance before it reaches McHenry County, so if you want to make the comparison, compare equitably.

  34. Have never felt miserable or in danger on Route 20 between Marengo and I-90.

  35. The NW Herald has reported numerous deaths and injuries in crashes along US 20 between I90 and the outskirts of Marengo over many years.

    That road segment has a number of very dangerous intersections along with a number of curves, blind crests and dips.

    That road segment is mostly double yellow zones.

    Drive that road segment with open eyes and an open mind and compare to other Illinois or US numbered road segments in western McHenry County for relative safety and easy of driving.

  36. I too have never felt miserable or in danger on that country road.

    Perhaps you would quote relative statistics to support your argument

    “…numerous deaths and injuries in crashes along US 20 between I90 and the outskirts of Marengo over many years.”

    RELATIVE to OTHER country roads which traverse between a highway exit and a municipality.

    I daresay 10 miles of Rte 47 between I90 and Woodstock could also be covered by the same description (“numerous deaths and injuries…”).

    Which has had more?

  37. US 20 has had more deaths than Il 47 over last 20-30 years according to reports covered in that time span in the Herald.

    Even when IL 47 was only a two-lane road between I90 and Woodstock it was still safer than is US 20. Suggest that next time driving US 20, keep the radio off, no conversations and observe very keenly the many dangers of the roadway and intersections on 20.

  38. Feel free to provide statistics about the claim.

    Have never heard anyone complain about Route 20 between Marengo and I-90.

    Does Jack Franks complain about it?

    He lives on Route 20 between Marengo and I-90.

    Presumably he and his family travel that stretch.

    If he felt that stretch was endangering his family surely he would have proposed legislation as a state legislator or made an issue of it.

    IDOT is proposing a roundabout at US 20 & Harmony Road, so they are addressing that intersection.

  39. Many families exit I-90 at State Route 20 and take their kids to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union each summer.

    They are endangering their families?

    How many signs are there on State Route 20 between I-90 and Marengo warning of a dangerous intersection or area?

    If that section of Route 20 is so dangerous, what other other areas in the County and state considered.

    Super dangerous?

    Extreme dangerous?

    Massively dangerous?

  40. Jack Franks chooses to live on dangerous road, threatening the safety of his family?

  41. Here is IDOT’s website for US 20 at Harmony Road.

    The pdf documents cover some of the danger issues mentioned above at that intersection, and how IDOT believes the proposed roundabout would reduce the crashes at the intersection.


    Why does government not have more transparency about all the dangerous intersections and stretches of road in the state, and why is their not better signage?

    Is the government not concerned about the public’s safety?

  42. There are other factors that make US 20 very dangerous and “miserable”. The 55 MPH speed limit from Harmony to Coral and the very high semi truck traffic. US 20 from I90 to the Marengo outskirts is a very, very old and poorly designed roadway.

    The new US 14 divided highway between Crystal Lake and Woodstock is an example of a well engineered and safe highway and it has a speed limit of 45 MPH.

    Anybody driving the US 14 and US 20 segments can easily see and compare the vast differences in road design. US 14 is current safe design and US 20 is many decades old in design without much regard for safety.

    If a currently designed 4-lane divided highway US 14 has been deemed to only be safe for drivers if velocity is limited to a posted 45 MPH, then US 20 in comparison cannot even be 45 MPH but something less. 40 MPH perhaps?

  43. IDOT says about US 20 and Harmony Road

    “The Department initiated
    preliminary engineering
    and environmental studies
    (Phase I) to address the
    severe crashes occurring
    at the intersection”

    IDOT could have included info on the amount of deaths and injuries at this
    intersection but did not.

  44. But you cant be arguing that $30 million should be spent on a highway interchange because the other exit has a dangerous intersection?

    That would argue for a new exchange to be put in slightly west of Rte 47 going to Woodstock, no?

    Wouldn’t scarce taxpayer money be better spent addressing safety issues you raise rather than an enormously expensive new highway exit?

  45. The most dangerous stretch of US 20 is between the McHenry County/Kane County line and West Union Road which is about 6 miles.

    The distance on Il 47 from I90 to US 14 is about 12 miles.

    Thus, the death rate per mile is twice as bad on US 20 vs Il 47 per data provided.

    A lot of deaths on US 20 in the 90’s and in recent 5 years a number of deaths at US 20 and Harmony Road.

  46. Would be wise to spend money on both a full interchange an IL 23 and I90 AND completely redesigning the US 20 roadway.

    In addition to the dangers previously cited, there is another huge danger.

    There are no shoulders along 20 to pull off in case of vehicle trouble.

    US 20 is a roadway design from the 1940’s, maybe earlier.

  47. All right, there are choices, assuming money is no object.

    County transportation funds could be spent on any number of life and safety projects.

    But not every municipality in the county or state has direct highway exchange access.

    Marengo has an access, albeit imperfect, and has failed to develop the corridor.

    What is the urgency to spend an enormous amount of County money on a second access to a small town with high property tax rates (making TIF unadvisable)?

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