Articles filed under On Guard

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  • 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

  • Potential governor hopeful Rauner claimed extra exemptions Mar 29, 2013 5:17 AM
    A likely Republican gubenatorial bidder improperly claimed three homeowner exemptions for a number of years, a Daily Herald investigation has found. After being notified of the error Wednesday afternoon, Bruce Rauner Thursday paid Cook County $1,616 to cover the extra tax savings he received, spokesman Chip Englander said.

  • Dist. 95 settles teacher molestation suit Mar 24, 2013 6:42 AM
    Lake Zurich Unit District 95 has settled one of two lawsuits claiming officials ignored complaints regarding inappropriate sexual conduct by a high school teacher toward a student about eight months before criminal charges were filed against him in 2010. Without comment and without admitting liability, elected officials last month agreed to pay $192,000 to settle the suit.

  • 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.

  • Lake Zurich gives 'last chance' to veteran police officer involved in alcohol-related crash Feb 19, 2013 5:34 AM
    Despite being accused of drunk driving after an off-duty crash last year, Lake Zurich police officer Vincent TeRonde has been allowed to keep his job. TeRonde, a longtime volunteer leader of the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign in the village, received a rare "last chance employment agreement," according to documents obtained from Lake Zurich police through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request.

  • 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.

  • Area schools spend $574,197 during weekend in city Feb 7, 2013 10:23 AM
    It cost suburban taxpayers $574,197.48 to send 735 school board members and district administrators back to the classroom. The price tag for a weekend-long conference last November includes rooms at downtown Chicago hotels and many free meals, but the heftiest portion of the tab comes from the nearly $300,000 spent on registration fees for seminars, workshops and classes.

  • District's tab for weekend in Chicago: $13,756 Jan 30, 2013 3:07 PM
    Taxpayers in Fox Lake Elementary District 114 paid for movies, a limo ride and nearly $1,600 in parking fees that were part of a $13,756.20 tab racked up by school board members and administrators at a conference in Chicago nearly three months ago. “The days are filled, so it's not like we're going down there and goofing around,” said Superintendent John Donnellan. “Do I think they abuse it? No.”

  • Conviction for molesting girl doesn't stop retired Round Lake Beach cop's pension Jan 21, 2013 7:48 AM
    Round Lake Beach taxpayers continue to provide a pension for retired police officer Leroy Kuffel, who was convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl and is on a law-enforcement agency's sex-offender registry. Mayor Richard Hill said the village has determined it can't halt Kuffel's pension. “We don't want to exhaust any more (village) funds,” he said of fighting the pension.

  • What would teacher pension shift do to your taxes? Jan 16, 2013 9:15 AM
    How much would it cost average suburban homeowners to have the state's pension obligations for teachers shifted to them? It turns out, about $160 more a year, an analysis shows.

  • Which suburbs levy highest taxes per person? Jan 10, 2013 4:00 PM
    For each of its 4,209 residents, tony Barrington Hills collected nearly $1,618 in property taxes in 2010. On the other end of the spectrum, Prospect Heights collected a little more than $16 in property taxes for each of the city's 16,256 residents. Among 83 suburbs spread throughout six counties, Barrington Hills has the highest per capita property tax collection of any of the suburbs. Where does your town fall?

  • Kildeer District 96's $4,281 board meeting with $7 sodas Dec 26, 2012 5:28 AM
    The $350 officials from Kildeer Countryside District 96 spent on the meeting room at Chicago's InterContinental Hotel would be one of the cheapest expenditures for the school board's Nov. 16 meeting. Taxpayers living in the Buffalo Grove-based school district also covered $988 for 26 continental breakfasts, $1,638 for 26 lunches, $72 for nine bottles of iced tea and $392 for 2 cases of soda. That's $7 per soda.

  • Property tax burden grows for homeowners Dec 19, 2012 2:23 PM
    Illinois homeowners are shouldering more of the property tax burden than ever before. Meanwhile, the share of property taxes paid by commercial and industrial property owners shrank. Much of the increase is fueled by shifts in Cook and DuPage counties, where the proportion paid by homeowners increased 11.3 and 4.6 percentage points, respectively, from 2001 to 2010.

  • Suburban mayors accuse agency of mismanagement, nepotism Dec 5, 2012 6:30 AM
    The Illinois Municipal League was formed as a way for towns across the state to stand as one on legislative and other issues that affect them. Now, however, the group itself is divided, with several suburban mayors claiming mismanagement of the taxpayer-supported organization and calling for the jobs of agency leaders.

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