Articles filed under On Guard

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  • 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.

     
  • FOIA requests, costs increasing in many municipalities May 4, 2014 6:32 AM
    Some municipal officials are complaining about the cost and time involved in processing a spike in public records requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. But First Amendment experts say it is worth the cost to increase transparency of government. “I can't think of anything more important for a governmental body to do,” said Don Craven of the Illinois Press Association.

     
  • Which suburban townships raised property taxes? Apr 30, 2014 9:04 AM
    Property values plummeted on average more than 20 percent from 2009 to 2012 across 50 suburban townships. Meanwhile, leaders of 36 of those townships increased property tax collections during those same years.

     
  • Politically connected cop paid to attend Island Lake meetings Mar 31, 2014 5:03 AM
    A politically connected, part-time Island Lake police officer is being paid specifically to attend village board meetings twice a month, prompting a dispute about the expense among officials.

     
  • Suburban managers attend conference on the cheap Mar 31, 2014 2:42 PM
    A Daily Herald analysis of costs of local administrators attending a four-day conference in Boston last year showed some made a concerted effort to save money. One from Lisle attended virtually. Others such as from Wheeling, Fox Lake and Villa Park shared rooms, won contests or paid some of their own expenses. “I thought that it was in the best interest of the city that I share in the expenses," one leader said.

     
  • How Medinah’s proposed tax cut could cost schools Mar 26, 2014 3:11 PM
    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 spent $110,000 on travel, food over two years Mar 27, 2014 1:52 PM
    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.

     
  • 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 ó $41,054,552. Itís called the ď13th Payment,Ē and itís 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.

     
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