Fittest loser

Articles filed under Griffin, Jake

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  • Medinah Country Club officials are appealing property assessments for the past three years, which could net rebates of roughly $1 million if successful and shift more of the tax burden onto neighbors in the future.

    How Medinah’s proposed tax cut could cost schools Mar 26, 2014 12:00 AM
    Officials at the exclusive Medinah Country Club near Roselle are attempting to reduce the property tax burden by nearly 80 percent for each of the last three years. If successful, two school districts would have to repay the club roughly $300,000 each, or essentially the equivalent of 12 new teachers' salaries, officials said.

     
  • College of Lake County board members racked up nearly $110,000 in expenses covered by taxpayers over the past two years, which prompted the board to restrict its reimbursement policy for the second time in six years.

    College of Lake County board spent $110,000 on travel, food over two yearsMar 12, 2014 12:00 AM
    While the College of Lake County board has racked up nearly $110,000 in expenses over the past two years, it was a $128.87 bill for late night snacks that prompted trustees to tighten their spending policies recently. “Since I’ve been a board member, I’ve felt certain board members have forgotten we’re on taxpayers’ dollars and writing off more things than they should,” said Chairman Amanda Howland.

     
  • College of DuPage Trustee Dianne McGuire was reimbursed $971.05 over the past two years for trips she made to the Glen Ellyn campus for board meetings and other events.

    COD trustees reimbursed for driving to meetingsFeb 26, 2014 12:00 AM
    Two College of DuPage trustees combined to charge taxpayers more than $1,500 over the past two years to drive to the Glen Ellyn campus and back to their Naperville homes. Some trustees defend the practice, but government watchdog groups and even some of their fellow trustees question it.

     
  • Former state amusement ride inspector Chuck Drager, who also works as a singing vocal impersonator, stayed on the job for more than a year after investigators learned he falsified safety reports. A new bill would allow earlier notification of agencies when public safety is at risk. To see a video of Drager performing as well as Dean Argiris' invoices, go dailyherald.com/more.

    Daily Herald Watchdog reports spur new legislation, transparency Feb 12, 2014 12:00 AM
    State Rep. Fred Crespo introduces legislation that would allow the executive inspector general to inform state agencies of potential public safety risks uncovered during investigations, even if the investigation is ongoing. The bill was in response to a Daily Herald report that revealed a state amusement ride inspector was allowed to keep his job for a year after investigators determined he was fudging safety reports.

     
  •  Former Naperville City Councilman Richard Furstenau is pushing legislators to end a special “13th Payment” bonus program he benefits from that cost Illinois taxpayers more than $41 million in 2013.

    Retiree bonuses cost taxpayers millions Feb 5, 2014 12:00 AM
    Every July, thousands of Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensioners find a little something extra in their mailboxes in addition to their monthly pension check. In 2013, those little somethings added up to a big bill for taxpayers — $41,054,552. It’s called the “13th Payment,” and it’s essentially a bonus paid to retirees for simply living another year and outliving other retirees.

     
  • Grant Wehrli

    Part-time elected officials can't undo pensions Jan 29, 2014 12:00 AM
    Grant Wehrli doesn't want a pension for serving as a Naperville city councilman, but thanks to his fellow council members it looks like he'll get one. And he won't be alone. Some 42 former suburban aldermen, mayors and clerks together receive more than $200,000 a year combined for once holding elected office.

     
  • Rondout Elementary District 72 will collect $30,381 in property taxes per student this year, while East Aurora Unit District 131 has a property tax collection level of $2,816 per student.

    Which school districts tax the most per student? Jan 22, 2014 12:00 AM
    Property taxes collected to run public schools range from $30,381 per student in Rondout Elementary District 72 to $2,815 per student in East Aurora Unit District 131, with 90 other suburban school districts falling somewhere between. For schools at the bottom end of the ranking, the taxing disparity means more reliance on state and federal resources and more basic programs.

     
  • State investigators determined former Illinois Department of Labor amusement ride inspector Chuck Drager performed his “vocal impression” business while he was supposed to be working.

    Singing state worker kept on day job a year after filing false report Jan 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    Even after his supervisors at the Illinois Department of Labor discovered Chuck Drager fudged a safety inspection report for a ski lift at Villa Olivia in Bartlett, he was allowed to continue working for more than a year. Drager not only received almost $100,000 in pay while being investigated, but he continued to falsify safety reports, state inspectors said. He also sometimes left work early for his side gig as a singer.

     
  • Conrad Gutraj

    Ex-cop in Grayslake wins pension battle; who has state's highest pension? Jan 1, 2014 12:00 AM
    Who won the battle over an extra cost-of-living increase for a former Grayslake police sergeant? Who was driving the IDOT truck that was ticketed for running a red light in Hanover Park? Who has the state's highest pension? Find out in this latest serving of watchdog kibble.

     
  • Property owners in the Lake County section of Barrington Unit District 220 have been receiving property tax rebates for being overtaxed due to an assessment quirk benefiting their Cook County neighbors, but the rebates don't cover the full tax loss.

    Resident miss millions in quirky Dist. 220 tax rebatesNov 27, 2013 12:00 AM
    A quirky setup stemming from a long-running legal battle has Cook County property taxpayers in Barrington Unit District 220 paying rebates to their Lake County counterparts — but only if the Lake County homeowners sign up every year and pay one-third to a lawyer. “It's something that government, or whoever put this in, could take care of by writing rules correctly,” said Carl Koenemann, a North Barrington homeowner.

     
  • While state lawmakers continue to increase taxes on booze, cigarettes and gambling, revenues from the so-called “sin taxes” aren't keeping pace. At $1.95 billion, the state generated almost the same amount in tax revenue from these vices in 2012 as it did in 2003.

    'Sin' tax hikes don't yield long-term revenue spikes Oct 23, 2013 12:00 AM
    While state lawmakers continue to increase "sin taxes" on booze, cigarettes and gambling, revenues from the so-called “sin taxes” aren't keeping pace. At $1.95 billion, the state generated almost the same amount in tax revenue from these vices in 2012 as it did in 2003. “If you don't think this will affect you, it almost always does in the long run because the money almost never comes through like they think it will,” one expert said.

     
  • Lake County taxpayers could have to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars more a year if an election commission is formed.

    County clerks plus election boards costs suburbsOct 9, 2013 12:00 AM
    It would cost Lake County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars more to create an election commission mandated by the legislature, mainly in administrative salaries and benefits. DuPage County is the example. “I've always joked that it takes two highly compensated men in DuPage to do what I do,” Lake County Clerk Willard Helander said. “But I've never scrutinized the budgets of the offices in DuPage.”

     
  • The annual school board and administrators conference in Chicago next month is already costing Grayslake Elementary District 46 taxpayers $2,300 more than last year.

    School conference already costing some taxpayers moreOct 2, 2013 12:00 AM
    Grayslake Elementary District 46 taxpayers have already spent $2,300 more for the annual school board and administrators conference in downtown Chicago than they did last year. And that's just the registration costs and hotel deposits for the Nov. 22-24 conference. Eight suburban districts have already spent more on the conference than they did last year. So far, 62 suburban districts have registered 532 school board members, administrators and employees at a cost of $307,647.

     
  • What 167 state appointees cost taxpayers: $6.9 million Sep 18, 2013 12:00 AM
    Taxpayers spent nearly $6.9 million last year to cover the salaries and expenses of 167 appointed members of 23 state boards and commissions. And because the state is on the verge of creating another salaried board to handle concealed weapon permit appeals, the cost is going to grow by more than $260,000 next year.

     
  • An Illinois Department of Transportation truck runs a red light on eastbound Lake Street at Barrington Road in Hanover Park three months ago. The citation was dismissed, but police did not say why.

    How IDOT truck escaped red-light ticket Aug 28, 2013 12:00 AM
    Hanover Park police have only dismissed one red light camera ticket in two years. That ticket was issued to the driver of an Illinois Department of Transportation truck but cancelled after an IDOT worker sent police a note on agency letterhead saying the truck was on state business at the time. Now, IDOT and others are investigating. “To me, it's highly unusual,” Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig said.

     
  •  This is just one of the 10 or so stops 14-year-old William Walker and his mom Kristine made recently during freshman orientation at Geneva High School, where they also paid $135 for registration.

    Registration fees on top of taxes? Schools vary in suburbs Aug 21, 2013 12:00 AM
    Registration fees at public school districts can costs parents hundreds of dollars on top of the property tax revenue they're already paying. They run the gamut from $28 for Glen Ellyn first-graders to $435 for Maine Twp. high school students. “Then there are fees for band and sports. They pass everything on to parents,” Susie Johannesen said of Cary Elementary District 26.

     
  • Hainesville's reserve fund has enough money in it that the village could forgo levying property taxes for at least three years and still have money left in the fund.

    Some suburbs keep more money in reserve than needed Aug 7, 2013 12:00 AM
    The majority of suburban municipalities are carrying more in reserves than necessary based on budget recommendations of the Government Finance Officials Association. Some, like Hainesville, Inverness and Green Oaks, keep more than a year or two in expenses. “I do think (the village's reserve fund) is too high,” Hainesville Mayor Linda Soto said.

     
  • Scores of Illinois police pension fund board members will attend a regional conference in October in Lake Geneva, Wis.

    Why will our police pension boards be in Wisconsin? Jul 31, 2013 12:00 AM
    Readers's tips and suggestions have the Suburban Tax Watchdog looking into Illinois pension fund board members attending a conference in Lake Geneva, property tax battles in Lake County, and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas' online warehouse of government agencies' financial data.

     
  • Huntley Village Manager David Johnson received a $10,108 raise this year.

    Municipal administrators are getting big raisesJul 24, 2013 12:00 AM
    After years of pay freezes, most suburban municipal administrators are receiving raises this year, according to an analysis of 74 suburbs in six counties. In fact, 55 suburban administrators are averaging a 3.7 percent average pay hike, with Huntley's village manager getting a $10,018 raise, Aurora's getting $10,586 and Prospect Heights' getting $10,000.

     
  • Jeanne Ives

    Where is your town hiding its salary report?Jul 3, 2013 12:00 AM
    Of all the information available on a municipality's website, salary details for most department heads should be one of the easiest things to find. After all, a state law dictates that current compensation records for highly paid employees “must” be posted online. So why are the reports so hard to find? “There was an absence of guidance in that regard from the legislature,” said Ray Keller, Gilberts village administrator.

     
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