Articles filed under On Guard

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  • 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.

  • Millions spent in duplicating South Elgin water service Jul 12, 2012 11:06 AM
    The Otter Creek Water Reclamation District exists essentially on paper alone. There is no staff. There are no headquarters. Its services are almost entirely handled by South Elgin. But it does have millions of dollars of debt and a well-paid lawyer. If South Elgin has its way, though, the district will cease to exist before the year is out.

  • Warren superintendent choice gets $250,000 to quit Jul 3, 2012 4:02 PM
    More than $250,000 will be paid to Jeff Brierton for quitting shortly before he was scheduled to move up this month from principal to superintendent at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, according to documents obtained through a Daily Herald open records request. "Unfortunately, both the board and Dr. Brierton have found that their working relationship has broken down," a statement reads.

  • Suburban police sweeps fall short of grant expectations Jun 27, 2012 5:22 AM
    Despite receiving grants to beef up patrols to snare drunken drivers in the days before last year's Fourth of July, several suburban police departments failed to net a single impaired driver. Eight departments — Algonquin, Cook County sheriff's, Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake Park District, Elk Grove Village, Kildeer, West Chicago and West Dundee — received a combined $21,663 for increased enforcement that resulted in no DUI arrests.

  • Public safety pensions take bigger bite of suburban budgets Jun 20, 2012 1:49 PM
    As the legislature looks at ways to reform the state's teacher pension costs, one proposal would require school districts to pick up the pension tab like municipalities do for public safety workers. But municipalities have long lamented this process and have seen costs skyrocket in recent years as more property tax dollars go toward covering public safety pension costs.

  • Why tax burden went up for Cook County homeowners Jun 13, 2012 5:30 AM
    Residential property owners in suburban Cook County school districts are seeing their tax burden increase while commercial property owners are often paying less. This phenomenon is occurring at a much steeper rate than in other suburban counties and has had homeowners all over the suburbs shaking their heads the last few years.

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