McHenry County Seems Set on Following Cook County Board’s Financial Example

The headline above was in The Daily Line and, to some extent, it reflects the strategy McHenry County’s Administrator Peter Austin laid out at Thursday’s McHenry County Board Committee of the Whole meeting.

He began by saying, “You as policy makers have given us real clear directions.”

He explained, projected revenues are $208.2 million, as are projected expenditures.

Revenue is estimated to decrease three percent.

There is, however, “a $1.4 million shortfall deficit,” Austin said.

The decrease in capital spending is Randall Road’s being almost finished.

That will be taken from General Fund reserves.

Cook County is doing something similar.

However, Austin expects the $1.4 million to “come back next year.”

Higher paid employees are retiring and newly hired personnel not only are paid less, but their health care benefits are leaner.

Money is in the budget for union employee wage increases and for non-union employees 2 1/4% pay hikes are budgeted.

The levy will not decrease, as it has for the last three years.

And, it won’t be flat as it pretty much was for the seven years before that.

Levies for the Highway Department, TB Fund and Veterans Assistance Commission will be increased.

The funds whose levies will be increased can be seen below:

If the levy were kept constant, current taxpayers would see a real estate tax reduction because taxes on new construction would mean the total paid by last year’s property owners would be less.

The recommendation was that, instead, the County levy for new growth.

That is estimated to bring in $323,000 more money than is projected to be collected when this years tax collection cycle is completed.

Austin pointed out that head count will be “essentially flat.”

However, the replacement of manpower with computers requires higher expenditures on software.

Board member Carolyn Schofield asked about expanding the County’s Valley Hi Nursing Home.

Austin said, “We don’t want to expand until we know we can staff it.”

Discussion ensued concerning the ability of the County to sustain the cuts that have been previously made.

“I am concerned about continued erosion, sustainability.

“If we go further down [there will be a] bigger hole to climb out of.

“I think there is general agreement to capture new growth.”

At this point Chairman Jack Franks said something that did not make sense to me.

“If we can’t take it (new growth), everybody’s taxes would go up.”

As I pointed out above, if the County does not increase its levy by taking new growth, everybody’s taxes would go down, other things being equal.

I listened to a fair amount of the discussion about the Covid-19 discussion.

I was shocked when Franks rudely interrupted Schofield.

And I mean really rudely interrupted her.

Listen to the meeting when Franks clearly displays his “I’m in charge” aspect of his personality.


McHenry County Seems Set on Following Cook County Board’s Financial Example — 5 Comments

  1. Franks thinks he’s Gulliver and we’re his Lilliputians!

    The county board members are his Pygmy pigs.

  2. So the reserves that were collecting interest in both the General Fund and Valley Hi are making much less to cover expenditures.

    Wonder what the interest was on Valley Hi that gave back $8 million?

    Or the one month operating expenses in the General Fund?

    Was that another $7 million?

    With COVID and those raining day funds diminished when next years budget is done will the state be able to support the local taxing bodies?

    I see a large increase in taxes for 2021-2022 budget!

    Good luck County Board because you let Jack fool you into giving back money that you should not have done!

    Jack didn’t even know you had a stash of cash.

    Illinois doesn’t even know what a reserve is but Jack figured out how to sell it.

  3. Having watched this video I came away concluding that the people deciding how to spend over $200 million of taxpayer money have no idea how the property tax levy works.

    The explanation on the impact of “new growth” on the tax bills of current property owners by Mr. Skala and Mr. Franks was flat out wrong.

    If the County only captures the new growth, everything else being equal to last year, existing property owners tax bill for the County portion will remain flat.

    Mr. Skala’s statement that “every single property tax PIN in the County will go up slightly by the $323,000 (New growth levy)” was incorrect.

    As to the discussion regarding the deficit and fund balance levels, there was nothing in the presentation or any attached budget documents in the Agenda Packet that addressed Fund Balances.

    How would the public or a board member know whether the County can sustain draws on current Fund Balance levels if the administration doesn’t present where those Fund Balances stand today?

  4. Coffey, why are levies voted on before budgets?

    Some gov’t entities have way too much in accumulated reserves, leading to taxpayer suits.

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