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Articles filed under On Guard

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  • Watchdog: Deal helps Medinah club, could hurt neighbors Dec 17, 2014 5:30 AM
    A settlement deal that promises backloaded assessment reductions for Medinah Country Club this year through 2016 could wind up meaning higher taxes for neighboring property owners over the next three years. But officials who negotiated the deal argue the 17 government agencies that receive property taxes from the golf club potentially saved the same taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in future legal bills by settling.

     
  • Suburbs losing phone tax revenue; will consumers pay later? Dec 10, 2014 5:26 AM
    Changes in how people communicate mean sharp drops in phone tax revenue in nearly every suburb. And some lobbyists and other experts are guessing what that means: Changes that could cost some consumers more after the state's telecommunications law expires in June. “It's a tax that applies to landlines and lots of people are getting rid of landlines,” said Lisa Happ, Schaumburg's finance director.

     
  • Griffin: How cautious budgeting helps keep taxes higher Dec 3, 2014 5:11 AM
    Several suburban home rule communities have real estate transfer taxes that are intended to lift some of the tax burden from property owners. However, despite increases in recent years, most municipalities are significantly underestimating transfer tax revenues, which isn't having the desired effect of reducing other tax levies.

     
  • COD trustee bites back at criticism over thousands spent on meals Nov 21, 2014 4:30 PM
    A watchdog group has criticized College of DuPage officials for using taxpayers’ money on meals and drinks for themselves and employees at the college’s Waterleaf restaurant, with some outings costing thousands of dollars each. But Trustee Dianne McGuire had her own message, calling out whom she deemed the “extremist, right-wing ideologues and groups attempting to discredit this stellar institution, its administration and its elected leaders.”

     
  • Griffin: Video gambling blamed for casino attendance drop Nov 19, 2014 5:06 AM
    The Suburban Tax Watchdog column looks at Wayne Township taxpayers who don't want to keep covering the cost of an extra sheriff's patrol, Illinois gambling revenue that is up but leaves future revenue stability in question, and who pays for judges' robes in DuPage County. Spoiler alert: Taxpayers still do.

     
  • Taxpayers in neighboring districts funding legal fight in Dist. 211 rape case Nov 12, 2014 11:19 AM
    For eight years, taxpayers in three suburban school districts have been helping fund the fight against a lawsuit brought by the families of five former special education students who were raped by a classmate at a District 211 school. Offiicals think that's OK, but “I definitely think that if the school board was overseeing this there might be a little more understanding of the human toll of this case,” said Catherine Massarelli, representing four of the families.

     
  • Griffin: Carpentersville is 'violating' state law, attorney general says Oct 29, 2014 5:02 AM
    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office believes the village of Carpentersville is "violating" state public records laws by refusing to release arrest reports involving a man who died less than 24 hours after a traffic stop. But state FOIA law does not provide for sanctions or punitive action. “FOIA is only as powerful as the attorney general enforcing it,” said Maryam Judar, of the Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center.

     
  • Griffin: Some residents taxed twice for sheriff patrols Oct 22, 2014 4:59 AM
    Taxpayers from unincorporated areas in four DuPage County townships are spending an extra $530,648 this year to pay for special sheriff's patrols. While voters approved paying for the special patrols more than two decades ago, some are questioning it since those costs will balloon over the next four years.

     
  • Griffin: How DuPage County population growth could hurt Cook County Oct 8, 2014 5:04 AM
    When the population of DuPage County hits 1 million, it could cost Cook County upward of $45 million. That's because the state's motor fuel tax law grants counties with more than 1 million residents a significant percentage of the more than $1 billion in annual revenue generated by the tax. That's just one of more than three dozen state laws that will change for DuPage County once it hits a population benchmark now only exceeded by Cook County.

     
  • Griffin: Why gas tax distribution varies in suburbs Oct 1, 2014 5:01 AM
    When Wheeling has to fix its roads, the village can count on $14,096 per mile in motor fuel taxes disbursed by the state. North Barrington gets just $3,647 a mile. The towns are the two extremes among 73 suburbs analyzed by the Daily Herald. Funding swings widely among different towns because motor fuel tax revenue — which comes from taxes drivers pay at the pump — is distributed to towns by population, rather than taking into account road mileage.

     
  • Griffin: College of DuPage spent $26 million without board scrutiny Sep 17, 2014 9:17 AM
    Over the past 16 months, more than $26 million has been spent by the College of DuPage. But all the seven-member board ever saw of those expenditures were monthly totals. Now, at least one board member with the help of a government transparency advocate are questioning how the board can properly do its job without seeing how more than $1 million a month, or 12 percent of the college's annual budget, is being spent.

     
  • Griffin: Taxes grow even as property values drop Aug 27, 2014 5:00 AM
    Over five years, the assessed value of property in 44 suburban townships dropped 26.8 percent. At the same time, property tax levies in those areas averaged an 8.3 percent increase. The comparison is one way of showing how tax bills can climb even as property values go down. “It's scary when you think about it because you really don't own your home,” a tax watchdog group leader says.

     
  • State agency is ignoring salary database law Aug 13, 2014 5:21 AM
    An Illinois law requiring the state to keep a salary database of most local government employees is being disregarded because no money was every appropriated to pay for it. Department officials claim they were never given funding to create the database and so didn't have to. “It's nice to know these progressive bills we pass to increase transparency are being ignored,” said Susan Garrett, a former Democratic state senator from Lake Forest.

     
  • Average public pension catching up to average salary Aug 6, 2014 5:03 AM
    The average pension for a retired public employee in Illinois is quickly approaching the average salary of those still working, a Daily Herald analysis shows. That doesn't bode well for the financial health of those retirement systems, some analysts say. “More and more people are making more in retirement than they did when they were working, and I just don't see how you can do that,” said David From, of Americans for Prosperity.

     
  • Software problem leaves residents in dark on water bills Jul 16, 2014 9:31 AM
    Many West Chicago residents haven't seen a water bill in nearly a year because of a software compatability issue. Residents and some city officials complain poor communication from the city has left many residents owing large sums. “It's scary, and it makes me angry a little bit because I don't know what I'm facing when the bills start coming again,” one resident said.

     
  • Island Lake officials keep promise to reduce legal bills Jul 14, 2014 11:41 AM
    In office now for more than a year, Island Lake Mayor Charles Amrich and his allies are keeping a campaign promise by holding the line on the village's legal bills. “We did tighten our belts here a little bit,” Amrich said. “We've been able to do a lot of things in-house.”

     
  • Archaic tax formula leaves most suburbs wanting more Jul 9, 2014 4:58 AM
    Suburban Chicago would be almost unrecognizable to someone who hasn't been here in 35 years. But what's the same is the distribution of funds from a lesser-known state tax that is based on how the suburbs looked in 1979. “If you're allocating dollars based on how Illinois looked 40 years ago, we're overdue for a change,” Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger said.

     
  • Which suburbs are income tax givers and takers? Jul 16, 2014 1:17 PM
    Since municipalities and counties share in the income taxes collected by the state, how much is coming back home? That depends on where you live. Some suburban workers pay a lot more to the state than what comes back through what's known as the Local Government Distributive Fund. But some places get much more back from the state — in one case, as high as 25 percent of what residents paid in.

     
  • Would consolidation reduce library administrative costs? Jun 4, 2014 12:39 PM
    Wildly fluctuating salaries throughout the suburbs for top library administrators are leading to calls for consolidation to curb unchecked salary growth and ultimately cut costs to taxpayers by eliminating redundancies and duplicative services. However, library officials remain skeptical such initiatives would have the desired financial results.

     
  • Agency head urges tax hike support for 'leverage' May 7, 2014 8:46 AM
    The head of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference is urging municipal leaders to support keeping the state's 5 percent income tax rate, which is set to decrease next year, in order to curry future "political capital" with legislators, according to a letter he sent Thursday. Some local leaders are unhappy with the taxpayer-funded group's stance.

     
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