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Articles filed under Griffin, Jake

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  • School conference already costing some taxpayers more Oct 2, 2013 5:17 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 10:56 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.

     
  • How IDOT truck escaped red-light ticket Aug 28, 2013 4:51 PM
    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.

     
  • Registration fees on top of taxes? Schools vary in suburbs Aug 22, 2013 5:44 PM
    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.

     
  • Some suburbs keep more money in reserve than needed Aug 7, 2013 5:51 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.

     
  • Why will our police pension boards be in Wisconsin? Jul 31, 2013 10:18 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.

     
  • Municipal administrators are getting big raises Jul 24, 2013 5:17 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.

     
  • Where is your town hiding its salary report? Jul 8, 2013 4:22 PM
    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.

     
  • Why $25,000 in food on Batavia school charge cards? Jun 19, 2013 4:03 PM
    Batavia Unit District 101 purchase cards were used by employees 253 times last year to buy almost $25,000 worth of food and other goods totaling more than $1 million. District officials signed off on all the purchases and contend checks and balances are in place to make sure use of the 97 cards is justified, but one taxpayer disagrees. “They're not really being good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars,” Carl Dinwiddie says.

     
  • How you could swim in filth at suburban beaches Jun 12, 2013 7:58 AM
    Due to a lag in the time it takes the state to test water samples, beachgoers may be frolicking in filth. Illinois Department of Public Health officials said it can take as much as two days for test results on water samples with dangerously high bacteria levels to be discovered. “That's one of the flaws in the system,” said Melaney Arnold, IDPH spokeswoman.

     
  • Union teacher conference costs some taxpayers twice Jun 5, 2013 5:17 AM
    Taxpayers in 57 suburban school districts spent more than $200,000 on the salaries of 276 teachers and other employees for days spent attending a union conference in April. In some of those school districts, taxpayers picked up the cost of substitutes, as well, while in others the union covered those costs.

     
  • How a retired teacher's pension adds up to $400,000 May 29, 2013 5:27 AM
    A provision so obscure it caught several of Illinois' top legislative pension experts by surprise allows survivors of some former public employees to take over their deceased spouses' pensions as well as receive survivor benefits. “It sounds preposterous,” said state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat. “I don't know how you get that and a survivor's annuity. This is the first I've heard about this.”

     
  • Appeals for public information spike 22 percent May 16, 2013 7:56 AM
    Illinois residents have the benefit of new laws aimed at opening up more government records — and when they don't get the information they want, they're raising a stink about it. Appeals to the Illinois attorney general's office for denied Freedom of Information Act requests jumped 22 percent last year. Most of those came from members of the public.

     
  • Unused state police time off cost taxpayers $7.7 million May 8, 2013 5:24 AM
    Taxpayers spent more than $7.7 million to cover unused time off for 134 former Illinois State Police troopers who retired between 2006 and 2012. Money paid for unused sick time and vacation time made up the bulk of that total, along with funds for personal, compensatory and holiday time that went unused.

     
  • Illinois nets almost $6 billion more in taxes in 2012 Apr 24, 2013 5:14 PM
    Nearly $6 billion more taxes and fees were collected by Illinois in 2012 than the year before. That's the greatest increase of any state in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's annual State Government Tax Collections report that was released a few days ago. The increase from $30.6 billion to $36.4 billion represents a 19.1 percent spike in the state's total tax haul.

     
  • Does it matter if districts cover teacher contributions? Apr 17, 2013 2:32 PM
    Illinois teachers are supposed to put 9.4 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. Yet teachers in at least 27 suburban school districts have some or all of their retirement contributions paid on their behalf by the district. But it's not as nefarious as it sounds. Those districts are among about 600 school districts or education cooperatives across the state that provide a similar benefit, according to an annual salary study by the Illinois State Board of Education.

     
  • Uncontested races likely mean status quo on local taxes Apr 3, 2013 5:13 AM
    A lack of ballot competition in Tuesday's election means many homeowners aren't likely to see much in the way of policy change when it comes to property taxes. While voters will make key choices in some local races, more than 60 percent of the 2,100-plus races that will be decided in suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties are uncontested

     
  • Taxpayers' pension fund contributions up 172% in 10 years Mar 13, 2013 9:17 AM
    Pension obligations for local government employees cost Illinois taxpayers $500 million more than it did 10 years ago. The state's 3,000-plus municipalities, counties, libraries, park districts, townships and other local agencies that pay into the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund spent $800,804,253 in 2011 to cover retirement benefits for 175,844 employees. That's up 172 percent.

     
  • Pensions top $100,000 for 42% of District 211 retired educators Mar 6, 2013 10:57 AM
    In Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, 42.5 percent of retired educators receive pensions of more than $100,000 a year, according to state retirement system data. Other suburban schools, including Stevenson High School District 125, Leyden High School District 212 and Fenton High School District 100, aren't far behind. Across the suburbs, 7 percent of retired public school educators get six-figure pensions, compared to less than 1 percent downstate.

     
  • School conference hotels, food, travel cost taxpayers $277,086 Feb 13, 2013 1:41 PM
    Come for the conference, stay for the hotel room, $57 steak dinner, valet parking and laundry service. Those are just some of the extra costs taxpayers in 89 suburban school districts covered for board members and administrators who attended a November conference in Chicago. The districts racked up $277,086.17 in hotel, food, travel and incidental costs over the weekend-long conference.

     
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