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Articles filed under On Guard

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  • Pension loophole could mean $500,000 more for ex-Grayslake cop Nov 14, 2012 2:11 PM
    A loophole in the state's police pension law could cost Grayslake taxpayers an extra $500,000 over the next 20 years that would benefit just a single former police sergeant. Former Grayslake Police Sgt. Conrad Gutraj is entitled to not just one annual 3 percent cost-of-living pension increase, but two, a Lake County judge has ruled.

  • Retired Naperville police chief gets $50,000 for 3 months work Nov 9, 2012 8:15 AM
    Five days after retiring as Naperville police chief, David Dial quietly returned to the city payroll as a consultant to help the department he just left. He was paid about $47,000 in wages and benefits for three months before leaving for his new job at Aurora University, according to his contract, which was obtained this week by the Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information request.

  • Taxpayers to cover big OT costs for Dec. 24 election filing snafu Oct 31, 2012 6:08 AM
    What’s worse than a lump of coal in your stocking? Perhaps working Christmas Eve at an otherwise closed local government office all because of a quirk in the state’s election law that could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “It’s a big concern because of the cost of keeping these places open, especially places where they’re already cutting costs,” said state Rep. Fred Crespo.

  • Illinois legislative paychecks add up to $15 million Oct 24, 2012 5:30 AM
    Illinois taxpayers spent nearly $15 million on salaries, stipends, allowances and mileage reimbursements for 214 current and former legislators last year for 77 days in session. Party leaders made the most thanks to stipends that also help increase the legislators' pensions. "What are we getting for it?” asked David From, Illinois state director of Americans for Prosperity.

  • Sears regularly gets multimillion-dollar property tax cuts Oct 21, 2012 7:11 AM
    Last year, after an extended and highly public battle, including mass protests by supporters of Community Unit District 300, Sears Holdings Corp. won state approval of millions of dollars in tax breaks for its Hoffman Estates headquarters. Much more quietly, Sears in recent years also has won millions in property tax breaks through the complex, multilayered Cook County property assessment appeals system.

  • Watchdog: Staff cuts don't translate to pension savings Oct 17, 2012 12:01 PM
    Doing more with less has been the mantra of most government agencies since the economy soured in 2008. But an analysis of 80 suburbs shows that while they combined to shed 708 jobs, the cost of providing retirement benefits to the remaining employees has increased more than $7.7 million from 2009 to 2011.

  • How much money does your town (and therefore you) owe? Oct 4, 2012 6:03 AM
    A Daily Herald analysis shows 72 suburbs across six counties owe nearly $4 billion combined. Another six suburbs have no debt, according to the most recent financial audits of those towns. “You want to examine if debt is growing faster than (property) values and if we’re putting a greater burden on future years,” said Laurence Msall, president of The Civic Federation.

  • Why suburban water rates are skyrocketing Sep 26, 2012 5:30 AM
    Some suburban residents are paying hundreds of dollars more this year for water than they did last year, thanks to a combination of rate increases. And in many towns, there are more rate increases to come. “We were concerned that we were not keeping up with what the true costs were,” Winfield Village Manager Curt Barrett said, for example.

  • Stipends for county officials cost state $3.4 million Sep 19, 2012 5:30 AM
    It's hard to find anyone who supports a state program that pays some 500-plus county officials $6,500 stipends each year just for holding elected posts. Except those who receive the stipend, that is. But even among that group, support is waning. "I think they'll be taken away," said Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, one of the recipients.

  • Township assessors get $3,000 bonus for doing job right Sep 12, 2012 5:25 AM
    Nearly 900 township assessors and county assessment officials in Illinois are eligible for a $3,000 yearly bonus — just for doing their jobs right. The "performance stipend" costs taxpayers upward of $650,000 a year in a state that's so broke it's at least $5.8 billion behind in paying its bills. "I think that's something that's going to be phased out," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican who is also assessor in Lake County's Fremont Township and who has not received the bonus in any of the last three years.

  • Officials in 31 suburban townships get automatic raises Aug 29, 2012 1:58 PM
    While most American workers have spent the past four years getting by with stagnating wages, or making even less than in years before, a segment of government employees is doing just fine. Elected officials in 31 suburban townships combined to make $661,387 more this year than they did in 2009. In many cases, they gave themselves the raises -- and they're getting ready to do it again.

  • Duckworth claimed two homeowner exemptions Aug 23, 2012 2:32 PM
    Eighth Congressional District candidate Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates improperly claimed two homeowner exemptions at once over a period of several years, a Daily Herald investigation has found. Duckworth calls it an oversight and says she is paying the $1,928 in taxes she saved because of the extra exemption, plus an added $612 in penalties.

  • Antioch Rescue Squad in need of “dramatic changes,” state says Aug 20, 2012 5:21 PM
    An informal report by the Illinois Department of Public Health says members of the Antioch Rescue Squad have intentionally irritated patients in order to restrain them, allowed EMS technicians to work their shift only hours after excessive drinking, and did not keep tabs on medicine. The group's president said the accusations are false.

  • Two Carpentersville trustees missed 21% of board meetings Aug 13, 2012 4:09 PM
    Two of Carpentersville's trustees have missed more than 20 percent of village board meetings since the last election. "If you're not able to make it to the meetings, what good of a voice are you?" asks Trustee Brad McFeggan. But Village President Ed Ritter said, "If I thought that it was on purpose or that they were trying to duck their duties, I would be disappointed, but I don't think it's the case."

  • Part-time cops don't mean big-time savings Aug 9, 2012 5:38 AM
    Without the costly insurance and pension benefits that full-time police officers receive, many suburban departments are turning to part-time officers as a way to cut costs. But the savings may not always pan out. While the reduction of full-time officers amount to savings in some areas, collective bargaining agreements and the cost of staffing those posts may prevent significant savings.

  • Some suburbs boost budgets with electric aggregation fees Aug 6, 2012 1:50 PM
    Out of more than 50 communities across the Northwest and West suburbans with electric aggregation programs, only seven decided to accept a "civic contribution" from their chosen provider, including West Dundee and Hoffman Estates. In communities like Mundelein that decided against accepting the civic contribution, officials point to their duty to save residents as much money as possible.

  • Why you could wait 2 years for tax appeal board answer Aug 1, 2012 6:28 AM
    Property owners who aren't satisfied with their tax assessments after appealing through local channels can always take it a step higher to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. However, they shouldn't hold their breath. The state agency is so overwhelmed, officials there acknowledge it takes about two years for a decision from the board.

  • Treasurer's 'new' I-Cash program carries big pricetag Jul 30, 2012 7:35 AM
    State Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office is paying nearly $2 million to a Chicago consulting firm to rebrand and market a program the Pontiac Republican said just months ago was exceeding expectations. The state will pay Henson Consulting a total of $1.98 million over three years to "re-brand and market the Cash Dash program in the state treasurer's unclaimed property division" between now and 2014.

  • Some suburban police departments more top heavy than others Jul 18, 2012 5:44 AM
    Several suburban police departments have high numbers of officers in supervisory roles overseeing fewer subordinates, at a higher cost to taxpayers. But a few other departments have supervisory levels that fall too low, says one expert. Leonard Territo, one of the co-authors of the police administration textbook, said specific circumstances should dictate a police department's supervisory staffing levels.

  • Retired, rehired Addison chief gets pay and pension Jul 17, 2012 5:00 AM
    To avoid losing longtime Addison Police Chief Timothy Hayden to another department, village officials are creating a new post that will allow Hayden to collect his six-figure police pension while drawing a $136,000 civilian salary as director of police. “(The pension) was intended as a stable source of income for retired people, not to boost the income for people who are still working,” said Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

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