Archive for the ‘County’ Category


By Zeta Cross | The Center Square contributor

Illinois is the most expensive state for natural gas heating bills.

MoneyGeek, the financial planning website, has ranked Illinois No. 1 among states with the highest projected residential winter heating bills.

Anja Solum, data journalism manager for MoneyGeek, said the average natural gas heating cost for Illinois households this winter is expected to be $133 a month. That is $5 monthly more than residents in No. 2 ranked Oklahoma can expect to pay.

The good news is that natural gas prices have dropped from the highs that we saw last year. Illinois residents can expect to pay $35 less per month for home heating this winter than they did last winter when Illinois households paid an average of $168 a month for natural gas.

MoneyGeek used projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to rank states by heating cost, Solum said.

“EIA tracks the number of households that are using natural gas,” Solum said. “We compared that to the retail prices for residential customers.”

Heating costs in Illinois’ neighboring states are considerably lower. The average household cost in No. 8 Michigan is $106 a month. In Indiana, at No. 25, bills average $74 a month. At No. 26 Wisconsin, residents pay an average of $72 a month. For the complete list of ranked states, go to the MoneyGeek website.

More here.

Read Full Post »

Illinois Budget Pensions

Unfunded liabilities for Illinois’ five statewide pension systems grew by $2.5 billion in a year, hitting its second-highest level since 2009. Researchers attributed most of the growth to “larger than expected salary increases.”

By Patrick Andriesen | Illinois Policy

llinois’ state pension debt grew by $2.6 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2023, spurred primarily by “larger than expected salary increases” for state employees.

A new pension report from the state legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows statewide pension debt rose by 1.8% to $142.3 billion, based on the market value of the assets.

After growing for the second consecutive year, pension debt for the five statewide systems now sits at the second-highest level in the past 20 years. Federal pandemic funding allowed the state to temporarily arrest the deepening debt, but it is again growing.

Researchers attributed the rapid rise in pension debt to “larger than expected salary increases in all five systems.”

Pay raises for state employees in FY 2023 increased the unfunded liability by a total of $1.074 billion, with members of the three largest systems – the Teachers’ Retirement System, State Employees’ Retirement System and State Universities Retirement System – spurring most of the growth.

Pension Debt

Another $767.6 million in new debt was attributed to “demographic and other miscellaneous changes.” This includes differences between the predicted and actual benefits paid to employees as well as refunds.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »


By Rick Pearson | Chicago Tribune

The host committee for next year’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago announced Wednesday the creation of an advisory council to assist efforts to ensure broad involvement of businesses owned by diverse racial, ethnic and gender entrepreneurs in the convention.

The council will work with the host committee to set diversity spending goals as well as to establish equity practices, community engagement strategies and contract and event execution plans, the host committee said.

Co-chairing the diversity council are Jaemie Neely, executive director of the Federation of Women Contractors, and Jackie Gomez, executive director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.

The host committee wants to ensure that the August convention “highlights and utilizes Chicago’s robust diverse business community,” said Christy George, the committee’s executive director. Creating the council “is a critical step in ensuring business and individuals from a wide array of backgrounds have a seat at the table where decisions are being made,” George said.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Bears SF

An aerial view shows parking lots near Soldier Field in 2014. (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)

By Robert McCoppin | Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Bears continue to check out a variety of sites in and around Chicago — including the site of Soldier Field — as potential homes for a new stadium, officials said Wednesday.

The Bears are doing due diligence on the viability of the south parking lot at Soldier Field as the location for their next stadium, according to unnamed sources cited by The Parkins & Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 The Score.

The Bears have proposed building a $5 billion enclosed stadium and entertainment and housing complex on the site of the closed Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights. The project has stalled while the team tries to negotiate favorable property taxes for the site.

The Bears reportedly are using the same surveying firm, Compass Surveying Ltd. in Aurora, that they used for Arlington Heights and other potential locations.

In response, the Bears would not confirm the report, but issued the following brief statement:

“As we stated in September earlier this year, we want to appropriately explore all opportunities across Chicagoland for the development of a world-class stadium.”

More here.

Read Full Post »


“At the Dec. 5 Board meeting, the Board held a public hearing for the estimated 2023 tax levy, which is the first step in the process to establish a final levy of property taxes to support the district in 2024. Barrington 220 collects property taxes from Kane, Lake, Cook, and McHenry Counties, and property taxes account for approximately 80% of the district’s annual operating revenues.

If approved, the district expects to receive an overall levy increase of 5.5% compared to last year, however, it is requesting a 6.3% increase in the event new construction is larger than expected. This is inclusive of capped funds and debt service obligations. Based on projections, the total expected tax revenue to be collected in 2024 is $158,062,300. The Board is anticipated to approve the final tax levy on Dec. 19.

As part of the tentative levy, the Board will not issue Debt Service Extension Base (DSEB) this year. This will save local taxpayers approximately $2.5 million.”

Click here to read “tax levy FAQs”

Read Full Post »

JH 20 - Website Header

By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

A new report says that Illinois is home to one of the worst judicial hellholes in the country.

The American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) identified Illinois, specifically Cook County, as the second worst, the worst ranking in more than a decade.

The report says Illinois rivals California and New York for the most food and beverage class actions in the country due to the state’s reputation for allowing no-injury lawsuits and plaintiff-friendly consumer protection laws. But also the state’s controversial Biometric Information Privacy Act or BIPA is a problem, it says.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that every individual biometric information scan counts as a separate violation, meaning a single instance of biometric data collection can result in thousands of distinct claims.

“The way the courts have interpreted the statute doesn’t require that someone suffered an injury in order to bring a case, and when you have matters like that, your going to have more litigation, you’re going to have abuse of outcomes and it fosters an environment of excessive litigation,” ATRF President Tiger Joyce told The Center Square.

The report notes that there are over 1,100 Biometric Information Privacy Act cases pending in Illinois state and federal courts, with just seven law firms representing nearly 70% of the plaintiffs.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Union Label

(Scott Stantis/ For the Chicago Tribune)

By The Editorial Board Wall Street Journal

The alliance between Democrats and public unions is a dominant feature of modern politics, and the mutual love is growing. That’s the message of a new report by the Commonwealth Foundation, which dug into how government unions fund politics through direct campaign spending and political action committees.

The four largest government unions are the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Afscme). In the 2021-2022 election cycle, they spent more than $708 million combined on politics. Since 2012 union spending on federal elections has nearly tripled.

Democrats and their causes receive 95.7% of the cash from unions’ political action committees. In 2021-22 the Big Four gave more than $29 million to the SEIU’s United We Can super PAC and the NEA Advocacy Fund super PAC which support federal candidates for office. Another $16 million went to wealthy climate crusader Tom Steyer’s leftwing For Our Future Pac. Some $3 million went to Fair Share Massachusetts which supports a state wealth tax.

Big money also flows at the state level, where public unions all but run many state capitals. In 2021-2022, the four largest government unions spent $27.9 million in Illinois, $24.9 million in California, $13.2 million in Minnesota and $12.1 million in Pennsylvania.

Unions accounted for almost 83% of current Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s campaign funds, and teacher’s unions were the lion’s share. They are getting their money’s worth. Mr. Johnson will be renegotiating the Chicago Teachers Union contract in 2024 and unions will be on both sides of the negotiating table.

Illinois Speaker of the House Emanuel “Chris” Welch received $1.25 million in union PAC cash in the 2021-22 election cycle, more than any other state legislator in the country. Mr. Welch recently let an Illinois school-choice program for low-income children die because it was opposed by the unions.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

220 Admin

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street. Topics on their agenda include:

  • Open Public Hearing On Property Tax Levy
  • Public Comment
  • Informational (FOIA) Reports
  • Revised Personnel Report
  • Second Reading of Board Policy

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here. The meeting will be live-streamed on the district YouTube channel.

Related: “District 220 Board approves estimated 2023 tax levy

Read Full Post »

Downtown Barrington

According to the Daily Herald report, “Only seven suburbs — Antioch, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Fox River Grove, Hanover Park, Lindenhurst and Volo — saw a decline in sales tax revenue between the state’s 2022 and 2023 fiscal years…”

By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald

Suburban shoppers haven’t let rising costs slow their spending.

That’s according to a Daily Herald analysis of Illinois Department of Revenue figures that show growth of municipal sales tax revenues in 92 suburbs collectively outpaced the inflation rate.

IDOR data shows that sales tax revenues for those suburbs climbed a combined 6.2% during the state’s most recent fiscal year, which ran from July 2022 through June 2023. During that same period, the inflation rate rose by 3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 28 suburbs, sales tax revenues grew by more than 10%.

Winfield’s sales tax receipts grew by 121.3% last year, but that was largely due to a quarter-cent hike in the village’s sales tax rate and the addition of an Amazon distribution center to town.

“There’s not a shortage of places we could use the additional sales tax dollars,” said Curt Barrett, village manager. “That includes a new village hall. We just had a sewer line burst in the basement, so a lot of people were holding their noses while we worked.”

Winfield is now generating more than $2.8 million in sales taxes, up 427.8% from a decade prior, records show. Barrett said the additional revenue has largely gone to police pensions and road work.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

New Term

New Terminal Rendering, Credit: City of Chicago

By Gary Leff | View From The Wing

American Airlines and United Airlines want Chicago O’Hare’s expansion that they signed off on in 2018 slowed down – or stopped – as the project runs $1.5 billion over budget. Somehow the carriers are surprised that a massive public infrastructure project, in Chicago no less, is spending far more than originally projected?

And in fact it’s only just the ‘next phase’ where a 24% projected cost overrun totals $1.5 billion more than expected. That’s before construction on the new terminal even starts! The project’s total cost has grown from $8.7 billion to a projected $12.1 billion. So the terminal’s overrun is only one piece of an overall $3.4 billion price increase.

New Term 2

New Terminal Interior Rendering, Credit: City of Chicago

The new project replaces terminal 2, which many Chicago travelers are familiar with because it’s currently where passengers are funneled via airport train to pick up rideshares. The new terminal would handle both domestic and international flights.

It’s unclear whether Chicago’s Mayor will insist that airlines honor the contract or sign off on negotiations for modifying it. American’s performance in Chicago is weaker than United’s, so United could gain territory by playing chicken with American and supporting higher costs. (Historically higher costs in Miami have helped protect American from low cost carrier competition, although that’s been less true in recent years.)

Former Chicago Mayor and current Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel is publicly chastising the two airlines, saying ‘a deal’s a deal’ but they signed off on the deal at a specific price point that’s already out of control, and likely to escalate further. That’s what you get of course with public infrastructure, not least of which in a city like Chicago, so they’re naive to expect costs to line up with original projections.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »