the Defeat of Home Rule in BI
Vote No

Chicago, IL

#62 Jan 4, 2013
Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), has been fighting home rule in Illinois for decades. Tobin calls home rule “one of the most financially devastating schemes Illinois politicians have ever come up with.”
“Home rule means, literally, home rule unlimited taxing power,” Tobin said.“A home rule municipality can create just about any tax under the sun and raise taxes without limit.”
Thank you

Blue Island, IL

#63 Jan 4, 2013
Vote No wrote:
Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), has been fighting home rule in Illinois for decades. Tobin calls home rule “one of the most financially devastating schemes Illinois politicians have ever come up with.”
“Home rule means, literally, home rule unlimited taxing power,” Tobin said.“A home rule municipality can create just about any tax under the sun and raise taxes without limit.”
Why should we vote no if Peloquin is no longer our Mayor?
7thWardTacxpayer

United States

#64 Jan 4, 2013
Thank you wrote:
<quoted text>Why should we vote no if Peloquin is no longer our Mayor?
Because several of his flunkies who are running for election this April will try to keep it going.
And one of them is Peloquin's No.1 Flunkie, Mark Potaska who wants to win the City Clerks job or Treasurer's job. He gets his hands in there and he can push & pull to get it done. Along with other no nothing candidates running for Alderman in several strategic wards around the city. Check the candidates and it will be obvious who are the puppets Peloquin & Lenz & Frasor will have control of.
Amazing

Chicago, IL

#65 Jan 4, 2013
Southtown Editorial wrote:
Home rule limits needed
SouthtownStar editorial September 27,2012
Property owners in Illinois are fed up, increasingly angered by rising tax bills, but many feel powerless to do anything about it. How to stop local government
officials from playing us for saps by raising tax levies, and as a result also our bills, and making it tougher for people to stay in their homes?
There’s no easy answer, but we see a glimmer of hope. We strongly support, and you should too, efforts by state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas to force towns to go on a fiscal diet and expose those that are suffocating their citizenry under crushing debt.
Last spring, Pappas and watchdog groups revealed how levies rose among the county’s taxing districts at double the rate of inflation from 2000 to 2010. And she led a charge to require the districts to reveal their debt
levels.
Now, Topinka is carrying that torch on the state level. She wants all towns to submit more financial information to her office, which will post it on a new website. She also wants hearings on changing Illinois’ liberal municipal-borrowing rules to restrict local officials from opening the money spigot so easily.
All of the most populous states (except guess who?) restrict how much debt towns can take on or insist that voters OK the borrowing. Illinois did both until 1970 when “home rule authority” was created, giving municipalities extra powers to establish laws and impose taxes. Towns with at least 25,000 residents automatically have home rule; smaller ones need voter approval for it.
Under home rule, towns have no borrowing limits and don’t need voters to agree to incur greater debt. Such local control is a nice concept but often hasn’t worked well and has been a disaster for some towns (such as Country Club Hills and Bridgeview).
Major reform is very difficult in Illinois, and expect a battle royal if a bill to restrict home rule gets before the Legislature. Municipal groups would lobby hard to prevent that. But an army of disgusted taxpayers pressuring lawmakers might give it a chance.
Idealistic? Maybe, but home rule authority, as it is, must go. If not, you may be gone from your home.
The Southtown got it right!
Thank you

Blue Island, IL

#66 Jan 4, 2013
7thWardTacxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>
Because several of his flunkies who are running for election this April will try to keep it going.
And one of them is Peloquin's No.1 Flunkie, Mark Potaska who wants to win the City Clerks job or Treasurer's job. He gets his hands in there and he can push & pull to get it done. Along with other no nothing candidates running for Alderman in several strategic wards around the city. Check the candidates and it will be obvious who are the puppets Peloquin & Lenz & Frasor will have control of.
It will be the Rita/Democratic backed candidates that will consume the power after this election.
Is that Bad

Chicago, IL

#67 Jan 4, 2013
Thank you wrote:
<quoted text>It will be the Rita/Democratic backed candidates that will consume the power after this election.
Why is this a bad idea?
Look

Chicago, IL

#68 Jan 4, 2013
7thWardTacxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>
Because several of his flunkies who are running for election this April will try to keep it going.
And one of them is Peloquin's No.1 Flunkie, Mark Potaska who wants to win the City Clerks job or Treasurer's job. He gets his hands in there and he can push & pull to get it done. Along with other no nothing candidates running for Alderman in several strategic wards around the city. Check the candidates and it will be obvious who are the puppets Peloquin & Lenz & Frasor will have control of.
Home Rule won't pass, Jawa is dead, Potaska is in a three way race he can not win, what is the problem?
Thank you

Blue Island, IL

#69 Jan 4, 2013
Is that Bad wrote:
<quoted text>
Why is this a bad idea?
Not if you like how our state, county and township is run
Right

Chicago, IL

#70 Jan 4, 2013
Thank you wrote:
<quoted text>Not if you like how our state, county and township is run
Home Rule, Jawa, spending, debt, and unfunded Blue Island municipal pensions  CAN  TAX  YOU, right out of your home.
7thWardTacxpayer

United States

#71 Jan 5, 2013
Right wrote:
<quoted text>
Home Rule, Jawa, spending, debt, and unfunded Blue Island municipal pensions  CAN  TAX  YOU, right out of your home.
Absolutely right! And Peloquin/Tate puppet Mark Potaska, if elected, will do everything he can to keep these 2 dismal programs alive. From what I hear on the eastside, Bobby Rita does not want Home Rule and does not trust the people pushing Jawa...period. He thinks there is something going on under the table.
Triple Play Triple Cross

Chicago, IL

#72 Jan 5, 2013
7thWardTacxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>
Absolutely right! And Peloquin/Tate puppet Mark Potaska, if elected, will do everything he can to keep these 2 dismal programs alive. From what I hear on the eastside, Bobby Rita does not want Home Rule and does not trust the people pushing Jawa...period. He thinks there is something going on under the table.
"The Feud Still Lives"
Hummm

Chicago, IL

#73 Jan 5, 2013
Triple Play Triple Cross wrote:
<quoted text>
"The Feud Still Lives"
......and has legs!
Marc Anthony

Midlothian, IL

#74 Jan 5, 2013
7thWardTacxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>
Absolutely right! And Peloquin/Tate puppet Mark Potaska, if elected, will do everything he can to keep these 2 dismal programs alive. From what I hear on the eastside, Bobby Rita does not want Home Rule and does not trust the people pushing Jawa...period. He thinks there is something going on under the table.
On top of the table or under the table who is paying this bill?
Dose of Reality

Chicago, IL

#75 Jan 6, 2013
7thWardTacxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>
Because several of his flunkies who are running for election this April will try to keep it going.
And one of them is Peloquin's No.1 Flunkie, Mark Potaska who wants to win the City Clerks job or Treasurer's job. He gets his hands in there and he can push & pull to get it done. Along with other no nothing candidates running for Alderman in several strategic wards around the city. Check the candidates and it will be obvious who are the puppets Peloquin & Lenz & Frasor will have control of.
The last four years have been the best wake up call for the public, taxpayers, voters, and people in elected office.
Home Rule Taxes

Chicago, IL

#77 Jan 6, 2013
Small suburbs exploit tax loophole

By Joe Mahr and Joseph Ryan, Chicago Tribune reporters

January 6, 2013

In one suburb, weeds grow chest-high on long-dormant youth baseball diamonds. And the village's water is drawn from wells so laced with a toxic chemical that the state had to drag in a new filtration system.

They are the kinds of problems that could prompt a village to hike taxes, and Sauk Village did just that in recent years, raising them even higher than the tax-capped town is usually allowed.

But the extra cash hasn't gone to the ballfields or to the water system.

Instead, the money is going to pay off a gleaming Village Hall — for which officials borrowed big to build, without seeking voter approval.

"I don't think it was right," said longtime resident Edward Sullivan. "If anything has to do with my money, my taxes, my home — yes, I should have a right to vote on whether I want it or not."

Sauk Village represents yet another cautionary tale of how Illinois' loose borrowing rules can sting taxpayers and leave a town mired in debt — even in places where residents might have expected traditional safeguards to protect them.

Previous Tribune investigations have exposed how Illinois has no borrowing limits for many mostly bigger cities and villages, and how that has fostered risky gambles that have sent taxes skyrocketing.

But for many small towns such as Sauk Village, the oversight is supposed to be tighter. Officials are limited in how much they can raise property taxes and typically need voter approval for big borrowing.

Yet, the latest Tribune investigation found these suburbs turning to another device — called alternate-revenue bonds — to let them borrow big. This device comes from a little-known chapter of Illinois law that lets towns borrow in a way that sidesteps voters and property tax caps.

The catch for towns: They must be able to foresee paying off the loans without raising property taxes.

The catch for residents: If towns' projections are wrong, taxes are automatically hiked to make the loan payments.

While many towns' projections do work out, the Tribune found cases where bets backfired on taxpayers. In essence — in communities where taxpayers should have been most protected from tax increases, they instead awoke to hikes they never approved, ones that even exceed what the law normally allows.

That's how taxpayers in upscale Lakewood in McHenry County ended up paying for a golf course they were told wouldn't cost them a dime.

And that's how taxpayers in Franklin Park have paid about 30 percent more in municipal property taxes than what tax caps would allow.

And it's how the average homeowner in struggling Sauk Village was billed an extra $136 last year.

Guessing wrong

Supporters offered only rosy projections when they sold the provision in the law 25 years ago.

Back then, many bigger cities and villages were enjoying the "home-rule" powers granted in the 1970 rewrite of the state constitution. The new power — itself controversial — let these bigger communities borrow and raise property taxes without going to voters for approval. Such power led to lower interest rates because lenders were assured that tax hikes, if needed, would let them recoup their money.
Watching frm the Sideline

Chicago, IL

#78 Jan 6, 2013
Watching from the sidelines were municipalities that didn't have home-rule power. Unless they wanted to go to voters, these towns had to pay more to borrow, sometimes for the same kind of project.
Instead of continuing to push these towns to go to voters, the General Assembly decided to allow them to use an "alternate revenue" bond without voter approval.
Such bonds make two promises. They promise residents that the payments likely won't end up on the property tax rolls, with the money instead coming from another source, such as utility or sales taxes. The bonds also promise lenders that if the town's initial plan falls apart, property taxes will go up to make payments.
A classic example offered by supporters was for fixing up a town's water system. A town could qualify for the special loan, and lower interest rates, by planning to use higher water fees to pay back the loan.
But in northwest suburban Lakewood, the town decided to get the special loan in 1991 to buy a golf course.
At the time, officials from the small suburb said a sports management firm projected that the course would pay for itself. Some residents remained skeptical, including Roger Reid, who recalls going with a small group to the Village Board meeting to ask for assurance that taxes would not go up because of the deal.
"We were assured — up and down and sideways — that,'This is not going to go on your tax bill,'" Reid recalled.
Then Lakewood residents were hit with the catch in the law: If projections are off, taxes can go up.
Turns out, the town's projections were so far off that the golf course couldn't even pay a penny toward its loan payment for six years. And, by the time the bond was paid off two years ago, records show, 53 percent of it was paid off through higher taxes, not the projected golf-course profit.
Voters sidestepped
On the southern edge of the metro area, Sauk Village residents never got a direct say on whether to take out millions of dollars to build the new Village Hall — but they are paying for it anyway.
If local officials had gone the traditional route, Sauk Village residents would have faced a question on the ballot asking if they wanted to borrow the money, knowing their taxes could rise to pay it back.
But officials chose to take out an alternate-revenue bond, in part, to avoid going to voters.
"Our thought was that if we threw that back out to the residents, they may not be interested in that," then-Mayor Roger Peckham recently told the Tribune.
Supporters of such borrowing often point out that residents could have forced a referendum if they had secured signatures from roughly one of every 13 registered voters in town — a so-called backdoor referendum.
But critics complain such referendums are difficult to make happen because of the effort involved in persuading scores of neighbors to sign petitions. In Sauk Village, no petition surfaced.
By then, Sauk Village had become a king of alternate-revenue loans, with the little suburb for years taking out far more than most other towns to spur industrial development. None of those loans has needed taxpayer bailouts, nor are they projected to, even with the bad economy.
That can't be said about the Village Hall deal.
Just before the recession struck, officials bet that development would continue and earmarked money from that future development to make payments on the hall. Instead, the planned development sputtered, leaving the town short, spilling the payments onto the property tax bills.
That loan helped boost the municipal portion of property tax bills about 35 percent higher than tax caps would normally have allowed.
Bigger Tax Bills

Chicago, IL

#79 Jan 6, 2013
The bigger tax bills land heavily on the working-class town of winding subdivisions lined with modest houses, surrounded by mobile home parks.

Today hundreds of houses in Sauk Village are sitting vacant. Household incomes dropped by about 15 percent over a decade.

The village has at times paid its bills months late and still has come up considerably short. The financial crush has exacerbated political fighting, with Village Board meetings many times disintegrating into screaming matches.

Amid the political stalemate, officials last year put water fee hikes on the ballot in a move to switch their water supply from wells tainted with vinyl chloride, a carcinogen. The measure passed.

The stalemate also contributed to a dispute with the local youth baseball league, leading to the end of games. So students at the local school were left with views of baseball diamonds covered in weeds.

In contrast, the $6.5 million Village Hall rises across from a farm along Torrence Avenue, drawing attention with its angled roof, sweeping windows and clock tower.

To save money, the hall has been closed on Wednesdays.

Backdoor tax hikes

In Lakewood and Sauk Village, records show that officials hiked property taxes reluctantly, only after they couldn't raise the alternate revenue they expected to use to make the payments.

But in west suburban Franklin Park, officials had the alternate revenue in hand to make payments on a host of infrastructure loans. Yet they raised taxes anyway.

The small suburb showcases yet another way the deals can backfire on taxpayers.

In Franklin Park's case, the town has used accounting maneuvers to raise property taxes without voters' OK in a way that gets around tax caps. Records show that the town:

•Borrowed more than $40 million in the past decade for infrastructure and a new police station on the promise it would pay the money back using sales tax and utility tax collections.

•In every year since, the town has collected enough from those taxes to make most, if not all, the payments on those loans.

•Since 2010, it stopped using any sales and utility tax cash to make loan payments. Instead, the town hiked property taxes to cover the entire payments.

Mayor Barrett Pedersen said the village had no choice. When he took office in 2009, he said, the town's budget was in shambles, so village officials had to break promises made by a past administration.

"I was awake at night wondering how I was going to make payroll," he said.

Yet, after he took office, the village borrowed even more money to build the police station and fix streets. It again sidestepped voters by making a promise to use sales taxes to make payments. And it planned to break the new promise long before the ink was even dry on the loan.
Records Show

Chicago, IL

#80 Jan 6, 2013
Records show that the village didn't borrow the money until the fall of 2011 and didn't have its first payment due until 2012, but it told the county to collect more taxes beginning in 2010 to cover what it said would be the loan payments.

In essence, the village forced taxpayers to make payments on a loan that hadn't yet been taken out and that, regardless, wasn't supposed to raise property taxes a dime.

Pedersen said the town desperately needs a new police station — engineers have deemed parts of the current one unsafe and getting worse — and he's leery of going to voters because they tend to reject even much-needed measures. Besides, they elected him mayor, along with his vision and judgment.

"How is it you can do any long-term planning or get anything done, if you're constantly doing a poll to figure out what to do?" he said.

In all, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 bills were about 30 percent more than what tax caps indicate they should be. It has cost the average homeowner a total of $530 more since 2010. That has fueled anger and a new slate of Village Board candidates who are questioning current leaders.

One of those prospective candidates, accountant Barry Brandell, said the broken promises on the loans amounted to a "bait-and-switch" on residents: "Our property taxes are going through the roof."

In 2012, village officials tried to take out another alternate-revenue bond for stormwater improvements, but residents signed a petition to force the measure to a referendum. Village officials backed out of the bond but have yet to rescind the tax hikes to pay off the other loans.

Pedersen touts how he has put the village on a much stronger financial footing and said he'd consider rescinding those hikes only when village budgets are healthier.

No state oversight

The backdoor tax hikes in Lakewood, Sauk Village and Franklin Park occurred in a state that does little to oversee alternate-revenue borrowing.

No state agency double-checks the financial projections, or keeps tabs on towns that can't — or won't — keep their promises to avoid tax hikes.

The Illinois comptroller collects annual loan data from towns but doesn't pass judgment on them. The Illinois secretary of state focuses on safeguards for those who hold the IOUs of town debt, not residents paying them off. The attorney general's office, by law, can advocate for taxpayers blatantly misled by the deals, but the issue has never been raised there.

Taxpayers are left to largely fend for themselves. The bigger ones — large companies — sometimes hire a lawyer to fight what they perceive to be unfair tax hikes. But longtime tax attorney James Rooney said the courts are leery of invalidating tax hikes because of the potential financial upheaval it would cause, particularly with lenders counting on getting paid back.

Even if lawsuits are filed, the irony is that taxpayers get hurt no matter the outcome.

Franklin Park's Pedersen complained that the Tribune's revelations will lead to a taxpayer lawsuit, likely costing the village "tens of thousands of dollars" in taxpayer money to defend. "But that is merely the collateral damage in the battle for democracy, right?" he wrote in an email.
Sounds like Blue Island

Chicago, IL

#82 Jan 6, 2013
Watching from the sidelines were municipalities that didn't have home-rule power. Unless they wanted to go to voters, these towns had to pay more to borrow, sometimes for the same kind of project.
Instead of continuing to push these towns to go to voters, the General Assembly decided to allow them to use an "alternate revenue" bond without voter approval.
Such bonds make two promises. They promise residents that the payments likely won't end up on the property tax rolls, with the money instead coming from another source, such as utility or sales taxes. The bonds also promise lenders that if the town's initial plan falls apart, property taxes will go up to make payments.
A classic example offered by supporters was for fixing up a town's water system. A town could qualify for the special loan, and lower interest rates, by planning to use higher water fees to pay back the loan.
But in northwest suburban Lakewood, the town decided to get the special loan in 1991 to buy a golf course.
At the time, officials from the small suburb said a sports management firm projected that the course would pay for itself. Some residents remained skeptical, including Roger Reid, who recalls going with a small group to the Village Board meeting to ask for assurance that taxes would not go up because of the deal.
"We were assured — up and down and sideways — that,'This is not going to go on your tax bill,'" Reid recalled.
Then Lakewood residents were hit with the catch in the law: If projections are off, taxes can go up.
Turns out, the town's projections were so far off that the golf course couldn't even pay a penny toward its loan payment for six years. And, by the time the bond was paid off two years ago, records show, 53 percent of it was paid off through higher taxes, not the projected golf-course profit.
Helpers

Chicago, IL

#83 Jan 7, 2013
Potaska, Finance Committee Chair, Vargas, Judicary Chair, and Bilatto, stuffed one utility tax after another down the throats of Blue Island property owners, business owners, and public.

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