Friday, May 19, 2006

Just Can't Take "No" For An Answer At Fieldcrest

There are so many logical holes trying to be plugged with fuzzy math in Mr. Vincent's argument for a Fieldcrest School District referendum in November, that we cannot even muster the energy to debunk. A visual image of the proverbial Dutch boy trying to stuff fingers in the dikes comes to mind.

Suffice it to say that when you have the same or fewer kids, you don't hire more staff and spend more money. The prudent approach would be to cut expenses. That's what we all do in our own budgets. Fuel cost is up? You drive less - you don't run into your boss and ask for a raise; year after year.

The case for more tax follows the "Big Education" playbook. Threats of service cuts and increased fees. There is no downside to keep asking year after year for a tax rate hike. Eventually, school administrations feel, they will get it approved. The tactic always seems to include some type of claim that, "it's really SAVING you money . . . You can't afford NOT to approve this".

We believe there should be a three strikes your out policy with tax referenda. Let's say, if the voters turn you down 3 times in five years, then you can't bring another request for 3 years. What is the cost associated with these repeated attempts?

In any event, we wish the best for voters. We also want the best for the kids. We're just unsure the hike is best.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Recent News Links

Just for those that don't keep up with the "current news" link for Woodford County over at, here are the "award winning" submissions from local sources (April-May to date):

Vote to upgrade state's attorney's office fails
Plan would have boosted pay, added staff
Posted On: 18-May-2006
Law library named in honor of deputy clerk
still going strong at aged 76
Posted On: 18-May-2006
Expert to speak on freight trends at TransPORT spring luncheon
Consultant To Speak
Posted On: 17-May-2006
Woodford administrator gets early $4,000 pay raise
Jackson is "shocked"
Posted On: 17-May-2006
ICC to see drop in state funds
College had expected to see hike in cash
Posted On: 14-May-2006
Fieldcrest Board's CAC To Change Approach
Panel won't be involved in collecting student fees
Posted On: 8-May-2006
Roanoke-Benson mulls math changes curriculum
Board To Meet To Authorize Math Changes
Posted On: 8-May-2006
Senate passes tax cap reform
Lawmakers say bill helps taxpayers, school districts
Posted On: 5-May-2006
Woodford to aid Tazewell tax mailings
Consultant 'to guide the ship and give direction'
Posted On: 4-May-2006
Proposal may lift sales tax on fuel
But some officials say bill won't help consumers
Posted On: 27-Apr-2006
Woodford considers safety-tax cut
Losing fuel tax may help businesses seeking relief
Posted On: 26-Apr-2006
Dangerous dogs a growing concern
Woodford County considers ordinance for developing areas
Posted On: 24-Apr-2006
State House Cracking Down On Eminent Domain
measure goes back to Senate
Posted On: 21-Apr-2006
Tazwell property owners weren't taxed in 2003 or 2004
assesments still being logged
Posted On: 21-Apr-2006
Woodford County To Observe Government Week
Open Houses Planned
Posted On: 20-Apr-2006
Woodford board hires IT specialist
Eurkea High employee will be part of intergovernmental agreement
Posted On: 19-Apr-2006
Bond House Gives IL Negative Rating Over Pensions
$39 BILLION funding shortfall
Posted On: 14-Apr-2006
Whose Money Is It?
Fox/Opinion Dynamics Poll On Taxes
Posted On: 12-Apr-2006
Metamora man denies zoning offense
State's Attorney Investigating
Posted On: 12-Apr-2006
New index could drop farmland values
30-year-old assessment method being replaced
Posted On: 11-Apr-2006
Surprise! We Sold Your House
Foreclosure practices changing?
Posted On: 11-Apr-2006
"65%" Solution To School Funding Gains Momentum
States attempt to force money into the classroom
Posted On: 11-Apr-2006
Blagojevich's Legacy
Illinois Ranks 46th in Job Growth
Posted On: 10-Apr-2006
Raceway development agreement passes 1st step
Minonk and developers yet to sign
Posted On: 10-Apr-2006
Higher Sales Tax Revenue Expected in Eureka
$3.1 million in expenses
Posted On: 10-Apr-2006
Opinion From
Protecting our property rights
Posted On: 6-Apr-2006
Zogby Poll: Dems Hold Their Edge; But Topinka Still in Range
Blagojevitch leads despite difficulty
Posted On: 6-Apr-2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Woodford County Real Estate Tax Extensions

Here is the companion for our recently posted 2004 extensions in Woodford County.

The variance in overall extensions from 2004 to 2005 appears to us to come in at + 4.6% year to year.

Here is a little backup data going back to 1994:

Total Property Tax Extensions for Woodford County for the last 12 years-
1994 $23.811888 millions
1995 $25.977666 millions
1996 $27.843948 millions
1997 $30.550720 millions
1998 $32.743957 millions
1999 $33.954361 millions
2000 $35.641961 millions
2001 $38.121309 millions
2002 $39.864363 millions
2003 $42.728191 millions
2004 $45.046906 millions
2005 $47.111284 millions

Right off the bat you can easily tell that from '94 to this year the billings went up 98%, or an average of 8.9% per annum.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Public Libraries or Internet Portals?

Here's another local article speaking to our Public Libraries' identity crises.

We get a little concerned with publicly funded entities thinking they have somehow received a mandate to be the information gatekeepers - most especially when they are part of the ALA.

The American Library Association are the ones that want your kids to be able to go to the library and log-on to any site that they wish - forget the morality or safety concerns. They also do not want anyone, ever, to have any oversight over what occurs with their portals. This is not to imply that your own local library is unsafe for your kids - quite the contrary. However, the ALA is the activist wing and political action entity which your library supports, and thus, so do your tax and donation dollars.

The ALS (Alliance Library System) is the more localized wing. Take a look at just a couple of items:

These are your tax dollars at work.

Now, our libraries seem to want to establish their own proprietary "Google". They seem to feel that will keep public libraries viable.

With the number of private initiatives like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, not to mention NetFlix, the coming "TV on demand" thing, do we really need a library to compete in these areas by offering net access, DVDs, CDs, and video games?

Real World Property Taxes - Redux

We promised to keep updating real Woodford County residents' tax bills as they come in.

Here's an update:

(Click on the chart to enlarge for visibility)
Use your "back" button to return.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Eureka Public Library District - New Building Referendum?

We had the unusual opportunity to catch the Eureka Public Library District Board meeting on Monday night last

It was incredibly interesting. Much of the meeting was centered around thoughts of some sort of expansion, demolition, and/or relocation of the library.

We heard no budgetary numbers attached to these various options. Apparently, the original facility was essentially a gift from a Eureka resident and is "trusteed" by a church. There is also a State of Illinois historic preservation situation involved with a potential move.

Additionally, the board unanimously approved a 5% pay increase for library staff, and it was mentioned that much of the budgetary pressure was coming from I.M.R.F. contributions, which, it was stated, "we have no control over - it's State mandated".

Computer and software updates were also mentioned as needing monetary attention.

Morphing the library to more of a "community center" was discussed.

We may be way off on this - but it is our opinion that Public Libraries are desperately scrambling for relevance and a customer base.

Let's face it - folks aren't reading like they used to and if the libraries are to become "internet access points" why do they even need a complex at all? Are we to fund these things as book and computer warehouses?

Eureka, and many other libraries are in danger of losing their "warm and fuzzy" support from the tax paying folks that regard them with nostalgia as historic, iconic, and cultural reference points - places which they would endow from their estates when they die.

We would humbly submit that the libraries take a little break, take a few deep breaths, and consider what their missions should be in terms of their communities' wishes and history, rather than trying to create demand for something that perhaps isn't wanted or needed.

The public library system should not be a social service agency, nor a jobs program. If it is to be "public" it should serve genuine public needs. If it is to be private and privately endowed, it can make it's own mission, but it must create that without funding from property taxes, federal and state grants, or other public funds.

Take a look at this article from the Christian Science Monitor:

Letters From: the "Silent Majority"

This is from a letter which Newt Gingrich received after his last Sunday appearance on "Meet The Press" with Tim Russert on NBC.

"You are in a rare position for a public servant: you have found a way to make telling the truth a convincing political strategy. I think it really works on foreign and domestic policy, and I think it works when you talk about your own personal history in the face of hostile questions. When you do America the simple courtesy of speaking honestly, plainly and sympathetically, you tap huge reserves of goodwill and in the process make Americans feel better about themselves."

Speaker Gingrich has a lot of baggage to haul, but boy, we sure like his positive, inclusive and none-the-less fiscally conservative views and his appreciation of history.

Mr. Gingrich thinks America is ready for someone willing to speak the truth and "the folks" are crying out for leaders that have fiscal conservatism in their blood. We do too. It doesn't matter what label you use - progressive, Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Independent - the voters seem ready for the real deal.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Let The Tax Referenda Marketing Begin

The Peoria Journal Star had an article today featuring I.C.C. President John Erwin lamenting the unfairness of the projected State of Illinois funding of Illinois Central College.

While we agree with him that the giant sucking sound from up north is getting intolerable to we "downstate farmers", we also hear in Mr. Erwin's outrage the seeds of a tax referendum which will enable the pouring of more concrete over at ICC.

These seeds are sprouting vigorously in Woodford County. We hear murmurs from Fieldcrest School District, El Paso/Gridley, ICC, and others - not necessarily school taxing authorities.

Some may have merit, but the burden of proof lies with the taxing authority - not the tax payers. Let's nip this in the bud now. It is NOT a revenue problem, it is a spending problem. We refuse to be taxed out of our homes, regardless of where the State of Illinois' funding levels for local taxing bodies fall.