Saturday, August 25, 2007

No yet.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me a whole buncha times . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quote Of The Day

Calvin Trillin

"Health food makes me sick."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Brief History of the new County Website

The website is here! The website is here! Sorta.

We have it on good authority that Woodford County's long fabled website is to go up today or tomorrow. Right now we still are getting ye ole "placeholder".

Please peruse the history of same here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Phew! The long and winding road. We hope for the best. From what we hear it will be pretty useful for the taxpayers.

PTELL Is Dead ! ? !

There is only one way in which we can deliver relief to taxpayers - through mandated local TELs.

PTELL is dead.
PTELL is dead.

Long Live TEL.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Fat Lady Sang - Again - PTELL in Woodford County

An initiative to put Illinois' Property Tax Extension Limitation Law before the voters in Woodford County once again went down in flames at tonight's regular Woodford County Board Meeting.

We thought there was a 50-50 chance of PTELL ending up on the November '08 ballot. Boy, were we wrong. It wasn't even close. It was soundly voted down, and if you take the Board members' explanations of their votes at face value, it was voted down for the most ridiculous and uninformed reasons imaginable. Here's a sampling:

"If you look at rates, I've done research, they haven't gone up that much . . ."

What do "rates" have to do with PTELL? NOTHING!

"We and others have CUT taxes in the past. I don't know if we could DO that under PTELL"

Oh, we don't think that would be a problem.

"Larger population areas shouldn't be able to tell smaller population areas what to do with their schools."

Huh? Under PTELL, as under the current laws, no one, no how, outside of a taxing district can tell that district how much money they can raise. The question of extensions in excess of the ceiling goes to the voters in and only in that district. How is this "unfair"?

"I was GOING to ask for this to be tabled for more study, but I'm not going to now, and I'm voting against letting the voters decide on this issue, BECAUSE SOME OF THE PROPONENTS HERE TONIGHT ARE USING EMOTIONAL, PATRIOTIC, INFERENCES . . ."

Well that's as good a reason as any of the others.

"I don't appreciate one of the board members making veiled threats . . . so I'm voting against it"

Yes, well, nothing like voting on the merit of the proposal.

"We [the County Board] can't solve your property tax problems"

The implication is "so why should we even try. It's not our problem."

"I don't know what the impact of PTELL has been on the counties that have it. I wish some of the "public input" speakers would have presented some facts on that. I'm voting against it"

Gee, Mr. Board member. Maybe you could have Googled PTELL before the meeting and boned up a bit. One name that would have come up is We'd have been delighted to accommodate you. The Illinois Department of Revenue has voluminous non-biased information on PTELL and its implementation. Or you could have asked your finance committee for that information BEFORE YOU VOTED! And these are the same folks that said in the same breath (with nary a grin in sight) that the voters have trusted THEM to make taxing decisions!

It went on and on. We have access to video of some of this stuff and we'll attempt to cross post it over on YouTube and here. It's quite entertaining.

We were so shocked by some of the votes that we missed the final tally - more on that tomorrow - but it must have been nearly 2 to 1 against.

A lot of the tough talk from the last Republican Primary contest for Board seats seems to have gone all squishy when it came to PTELL.


The PJS says the vote was 9-5:

"Voting against putting PTELL on the ballot were Larry Whitaker, Kenneth Uphoff, Caroline Schertz, Joel Lemkemann, Gary Joseph, Gary Jones, Thomas Karr, James Fyke and Glazier. Voting in favor were Pete Lambie, Marcus Adams, Thomas Evans, Thomas Janssen and John Krug."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Accountable Transparency Is The New Democracy

Grover Norquist, Financial Times:

Published: 08-09-07

" The nice venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are always looking for 'the next big thing'. While we will have to wait for another six months to learn who will make it through the Republican and Democrat "Survivor" reality show we call primaries we can already see the next big thing in politics bubbling up from the 50 states: transparency. Making state budgets, contracts and individual expenditures available to the public on the internet "

Any of this sounding familiar to you regular visitors to our site?

RELAX! PTELL won't hurt a bit.

The fear mongering is beginning once again in Woodford County.

Next Tuesday, the Woodford County Board will vote on whether or not to allow the State of Illinois' Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) to be put on the November '08 ballot for voters to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. PTELL essentially limits the growth of property tax extensions to 5% per year or the rate of inflation, whichever is less - UNLESS THE INCREASE IS TAKEN TO VOTERS for approval in a referendum. This "cap" does not pertain to new construction growth.

Already, two objections to EVEN ALLOWING THE "FOLKS" TO VOTE on this issue have been raised by those terrified of a PTELL initiative
(taxing authorities). Both are red herrings:

1. Taxes will actually GO UP, because taxing districts will "load up" on the front end, and . . .

2. PTELL will force one local taxing district (read School District) to live by the rules of another area's voters not those in the district.

Both arguments are specious not to say ridiculous.

First of all, taxes may indeed go up initially in a PTELL county if a taxing district chooses to "front load" on its extensions before the law can go into effect. Not only is this onerous, it is a tactic designed not only as a threat to voters in advance of a vote, but if implemented after a successful vote, a deliberate, albeit legal, attempt to circumvent the will of the voters.
If a taxing district chooses this route they will indeed have a revenue bump in the initial years, but history shows that this initial bump will pale in comparison to the spending restraint statistically accrued over time in those counties under PTELL versus those not. It will also destroy the taxing authorities perceived credibility, accountability, and transparency to the voters - hardly worth the effort just to be able to say, "we'll show them".

Second, with regard to the "unfairness" of one district having to live with the same rules as another in the County (the PTELL opponents gripe that areas with larger populations have a disproportionate influence) - couldn't the same thing be said about ANY county law? Why should one district live under the zoning laws of another? Why should one school district have the same truancy laws as another? What about "local control" of a school district? Let's face it - "local control" is largely an illusion anyway. What about NCLB? What about federal and state mandates? What about unions?

Local control? Well, let's demonstrate that by asking the local voter for the money rather than confiscating it.

Clearly, the "unfairness to local districts" argument a silly one.
Even if it were true that the voting on PTELL were somehow skewed because it is one man, one vote (hunh?), it simply IS NOT TRUE that a taxing district can't raise any amount of money that they wish under PTELL. No one but that district's own voters can determine what their budgets will be. The district, simply, must ASK THE VOTERS rather than just TAKING THE MONEY. No other area is in charge of a district's levy or extension under PTELL. If it's more than the rate of inflation or 5% the district simply needs to ask the voters for that increase. WHAT"S WRONG WITH THAT?

Finally, and most egregiously, you will hear Woodford County Board members that are opposed to PTELL maintain that "this is why we, and the local taxing authorities' Boards are elected - to 'make the hard decisions'. We don't need PTELL to help us keep taxes low. The voters already have accountability - at election time!"

Well, that is fine and good. Unfortunately, taxes are assessed every year costing homeowners thousands of dollars. Officials aren't elected every year. Try and get an explanation in plain english for a rise in equalized assessed valuations from one of your board members at any level. This isn't asking for money - this is taking it.

Can you even attend all of those board meetings? We sure can't. There are hundreds of taxing authorities in Woodford County.

Just look at the past record and decide for yourself if you want to give permission for increased taxes or if you want to continue to cede that permission to various local boards.