Daily Herald: Skillicorn is endorsed!

“Allen Skillicorn, in his second term on the East Dundee village board, has been a strong voice for fiscal conservatism in town, pushing for a property tax freeze and lobbying against special financing districts.

Skillicorn is endorsed largely for his experience pushing tax relief in his village.”

Ethics questions nag Illinois Auditor General Mautino

Editorial by the Daily Herald

For days, newly appointed Auditor General Frank J. Mautino of north central Spring Valley has been getting hammered by government watchdog groups and some downstate newspapers for his spending habits while he was a Democratic member of the Illinois General Assembly.

Some pretty significant questions. For instance:

How could his campaign have racked up $55 a day in gas and auto repairs over the past decade? Could he explain why so much campaign money was spent for meals at his wife’s family’s restaurant in Spring Valley? Why did another family business, Mautino Distributing Company, once owned by his father and now owned by his cousin, receive a large bump in state business after he became assistant majority leader to House Speaker Michael Madigan in 2009?

You don’t have to be an ideologue to ask these questions.

Where the big primary races will be in suburbs

by Mike Riopell | Daily Herald

Despite frustration over a historic budget impasse in Springfield, Republicans and Democrats in the suburbs so far are avoiding dramatic primary election challenges to their veteran incumbents, state elections records show.

Monday is the last day for candidates to make their intentions known, and so far, the only major local primary contests for seats at the state Capitol are where incumbents — Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake and Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin — are departing.

Algonquin proposes 4.6 percent tax levy increase

by Lauren Rohr | Daily Herald

Algonquin officials are proposing to collect 4.6 percent more in property taxes for next year.

The village is considering increasing the 2015 property tax levy to $5.7 million — $250,000 more than the previous year, according to village documents.

Assistant Village Manager Michael Kumbera said the additional money is needed mostly to fund a $597,000 increase in public pension payments. About $1.8 million overall is needed to fund police pensions.

“We want to be able to keep up with our required pension contribution,” Kumbera said. “We don’t want to underfund our pensions and kick the can down the road.”

State budget impasse leaves Carpentersville uncertain about revenues

by Lauren Rohr | Daily Herald

Facing increased public pension contributions and uncertainties over state revenues, Carpentersville officials are seeking a 4.6 percent property tax levy increase — and say they may have to consider additional budget cuts in the future.

The village board Dec. 1 will vote on a proposed tax levy hike, and on a proposed $52.5 million budget for next fiscal year, which begins Jan. 1.

Could Kane County residents see tax bills shrink?

A proposed three-year plan to restructure $100 million in debt would mean lower levy
by James Fuller | Daily Herald

Kane County taxpayers upset about forest preserve commissioners’ recent vote to unfreeze the district’s tax levy may find solace in a pending move to refinance more than $100 million in debt. The move is expected to save local taxpayers millions of dollars over the next 25 years.

The refinancing would occur in a series of moves over three years, assuming interest rates stay low. The actual impact to the average county taxpayer is difficult to calculate, said Ken Stanish, the district’s finance director. That’s because the savings is spread out over the next decade.

Elgin considers borrowing $25 million, raising tax levy

by Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald

With uncertainty over revenues, Elgin officials are considering borrowing $25 million for street and utility improvements in 2016 and raising the property tax levy.

The city council got its first look this week at the proposed $285 million budget for 2016. The budget must be approved by Dec. 31 as Elgin’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1.

Officials are concerned whether the city’s share of gambling revenues from the Grand Victoria Casino, and motor fuel and emergency telephone systems taxes will come through in 2016 due to the state’s budget crisis. Nearly $5 million of $10.2 million in casino revenues are overdue. Those revenues fund infrastructure improvements, economic development initiatives, and grants for cultural arts and social service agencies.

“After several years of a declining tax levy, we have to move in the other direction,” City Manager Sean Stegall told the city council Wednesday.

Canceling the Elgin Valley Fox Trot in 2016 and reducing operating hours for city facilities also may be in the offing, if the state funding shortfall continues, he added.

Moody’s downgrades rating on $26.8B in Illinois bonds

Associated Press | 10/22/2015

CHICAGO — The Moody’s credit rating agency downgraded $26.8 billion in Illinois’ general obligation bonds on Thursday, prompting another round of finger pointing over the condition of the state’s finances.

In lowering the bond rating to Baa1 from A3, Moody’s Investors Service pointed to what it called the Illinois’ weakening financial position as the year progress.

“The downgrades reflect weakening of the state’s financial position during 2015 and our expectation that an ongoing budget stalemate will lead to further deterioration,” Moody’s said in a statement.

Fitch Ratings on Monday downgraded its rating on the state’s outstanding bonds for the same reasons. The result of such action means it will be more difficult and more expensive for the state to borrow money.

In a statement released by spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton contended that under Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, the state’s revenue has declined, services have been cut and job growth has slowed.

“President Cullerton joins the chorus of Republican leaders and rating agencies in asking the Governor to set aside his personal agenda in favor of a budget plan that reverses the damage and dysfunction of the last year,” Cullerton said in the statement.

In response, a Rauner statement issued by spokeswoman Catherine Kelly, said Moody’s action is confirmation that years of unbalanced budgets, deficit spending and mismanagement have damaged Illinois’ fiscal health and major, structural reforms are needed to restore it.

“This is more proof that instead of blocking all reforms and passing a broken budget that was $4 billion in the hole, the Super Majority in charge of the legislature should partner with the governor to enact real reforms that will grow jobs and free up more resources to balance the budget,” Rauner said.

House Speaker Michael Madigan noted in a statement that everyone wants economic growth, more business investment and more good-paying jobs in every part of Illinois. That is not in question.

“These priorities can be achieved through a state budget that takes a balanced approach with some spending cuts and some new revenue, not by slashing services and programs that families count on,” Madigan said.

Daily Herald Endorses Skillicorn for East Dundee Trustee

from the Daily Herald Editorial Board

The home to 3,200 people is seeing a spark of redevelopment as a result of its economic redevelopment efforts . The cramped downtown fire station has been closed and a new station was built on Route 25. The tiny police station is being combined with the old fire station space and being retooled. The attached village hall will get a makeover.

The village now sponsors a variety of events to draw residents — and hopefully business people and developers — downtown. Meanwhile, the problematic Walmart store will close soon, taking sales taxes with it.

Incumbent trustees Allen Skillicorn, an avowed tax watchdog, and Jeff Lynam are seeking re-election. Neither is overly concerned about Walmart’s departure, saying the corner on which it sits will be redeveloped with something more tax rich. Both favor the outreach the village has been doing, saying it will pay off in strong redevelopment. Skillicorn and Lynam are endorsed.