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Articles filed under On Guard

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  • COD trustees reimbursed for driving to meetings Feb 26, 2014 11:04 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.

     
  • Daily Herald Watchdog reports spur new legislation, transparency Feb 12, 2014 9:04 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.

     
  • Retiree bonuses cost taxpayers millions Feb 6, 2014 10:31 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.

     
  • Part-time elected officials can't undo pensions Jan 29, 2014 9:19 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.

     
  • Which school districts tax the most per student? Jan 22, 2014 5:35 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.

     
  • Ex-cop in Grayslake wins pension battle; who has state's highest pension? Jan 1, 2014 10:53 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.

     
  • Island Lake's legal bills are shrinking Dec 29, 2013 8:01 AM
    When Charles Amrich was elected Island Lake's mayor earlier this year, he promised to reduce the small village's staggeringly high legal bills. A Daily Herald analysis shows he's accomplished that task.

     
  • Resident miss millions in quirky Dist. 220 tax rebates Nov 28, 2013 5:25 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.

     
  • 'Sin' tax hikes don't yield long-term revenue spikes Oct 23, 2013 8:27 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.

     
  • County clerks plus election boards costs suburbs Oct 9, 2013 9:57 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.”

     
  • 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.

     
  • Police reports reveal ‘troubling’ cases at Lutherbrook Jul 28, 2013 11:12 AM
    A sexual encounter, a knife in a classrom and an attack on a teen are among troubling occurrences at Lutherbrook that have caught the attention of the Cook County public guardian. But leaders of the Addison treatment center for traumatized youth say the facility is all about healing and helping children.

     
  • 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.

     
  • Ex-Island Lake mayor knew of controversial robocall script Jul 19, 2013 12:42 PM
    Former Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann knew about the preparation of a controversial robocall that went out days before April's election, a Lake County state's attorney's office investigation has revealed. But after three months, investigators have uncovered no criminal wrongdoing connected to the robocall. “(It's) simply wrong,” State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said.

     
  • Husband of Island Lake mayor’s campaign treasurer getting $20,000 from village Jul 13, 2013 8:00 AM
    The Island Lake man who stands to receive a $20,000 payout from the village for settling a politically tinged libel lawsuit is married to the new treasurer of Mayor Charles Amrich’s campaign committee, state records show. “Anytime you have one donor bigfoot an election in that way, it raises questions about whose priorities are driving the conversation,” said David Morrison, acting director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

     
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