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The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening in person and via Zoom at 7:00 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • 2023 Tax Levy Ordinance, and
  • Large Equipment To Purchase

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here. Instructions for accessing the meeting remotely can be found here.

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Barrington

Prepare to get Darched Barrington taxpayers.

Barrington home rule:

Voters in Barrington have approved a ballot measure giving the village home rule authority, with 2,488 votes in favor and 2,102 against, unofficial results showed late Tuesday.

Village officials said home rule status would give them more local control to invest further in roads, bike paths and community spaces. One proposal is the creation of Park Avenue Plaza, a community gathering space and al fresco dining area. To ease residents’ concerns about tax hikes, village trustees approved an ordinance that would prevent them from raising the property tax levy above the current cap set on non-home rule communities.

Voters rejected a similar home rule measure in 2014.

Cook County forest preserves:

Voters across the county agreed to a property tax hike that will help the forest preserve district acquire more land, restore some existing sites, fund maintenance projects, pay down pension costs and expand programming. A portion of the funds will also go to Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden.

With 92% of precincts reporting, unofficial results show 731,555 favored the tax hike and 350,547 opposed it.

Approval of the ballot measure — providing a $43 million boost to the district’s annual budget — will mean paying about $20 more in property taxes a year, on top of about $36 to $48 that currently goes to the district. A coalition of more than 150 organizations supported the request for additional funds for the county’s nearly 70,000 acres of forest preserves.

More here.

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River View

A new report shows a majority of states are enjoying pre-pandemic levels of prosperity, while Illinois’ score is being dragged down by crime and economic quality.

The American Dream Prosperity Index released by the Legatum Institute looks at 200 indicators gathered from over 90 data sources, including open economies, crime, burden of regulation and living conditions.

The report points out that while the overall trend points to a more prosperous nation, regional prosperity continues to be unequally distributed, often eluding rural communities and Black Americans.

Illinois was ranked as the 24th most prosperous state in the report, up slightly from 2021. The Land of Lincoln ranked 6th in the country for business climate, but received poor scores in the areas of safety and security, at 34th, and economic quality, which ranked the state 48th in the country.

“There is a high rise in gun violence in nearly every state, and that is impacting Americans individual sense of security and prosperity, and you can see that across the index, so whether we’re looking at mass shootings or violent crime, you are seeing that there has been an increase,” said senior advisor Farah Pandith.

Since 2012, mental health has also deteriorated in America, marked by a rise in suicides and opioid-related deaths, even as the country’s overall health continues to improve.

In 2022, 26 states have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of overall prosperity, with Oklahoma, New Jersey and New Mexico seeing the biggest improvement. Reasons for the improvement in these states vary, but economic factors such as the increasing number of entrepreneurs played a key role in the post-pandemic rebound and bodes well for further improvement.

More here.

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Unions

Crain’s Chicago Business’ editorial board is endorsing a ‘no’ vote on Amendment 1. Two Crain’s columnists did so, also, because of the unchecked power it would grant government unions.

Crain’s Chicago Business is the newest editorial board asking Illinoisans to reject Amendment 1.

Prior to the editorial board’s endorsement, two of their columnists wrote against the amendment as well as The Wall Street JournalChicago TribuneDaily Herald and News-Gazette in Champaign.

In addition to editorial boards, a prominent Democrat, former Chicago 43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith, endorsed voting “no” on Amendment 1.

Crain’s Editorial Board

Crain’s endorses a no vote because of the effect Amendment 1 would have on Illinois’ business climate. Voters will decide its fate Nov. 8.

“In fact, it’s the very last thing this state needs. Bestowing special constitutional status on unions would give companies one more reason to avoid Illinois.”

This year, businesses such as Tyson, Citadel, Boeing, Caterpillar, FTX and Highland Ventures announced moves out of Illinois. McDonald’s restaurants said its headquarters’ future in Illinois is uncertain.

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited the Crain’s editorial board, he discussed impediments to businesses coming to Illinois. The state’s fiscal mess creating tax uncertainty and Chicago crime were on his list, but the editorial board had a third.

“Though Pritzker didn’t list it, there’s a third impediment – one the governor was eager to back away from in our Oct. 12 conversation. It’s the perception that labor runs the show in Illinois, making it costlier to do business here and nearly impossible to solve the biggest budgetary burden we face as a state – namely, the unfunded obligation of about $130 billion that every man, woman and child in this state owes to our public employee pension systems.”

They said passing Amendment 1 would be a major mistake.

Read more here.

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Springfield

An audit of Illinois public employee salaries and pensions found a staggering number of employees were in the six-figure club.

The nonprofit government watchdog organization OpenTheBooks.com found educators, city managers, bus drivers and even barbers were pulling in more than $100,000 a year. A total of 132,188 public employees made six-figure salaries, costing taxpayers $17 billion.

“Six-figure public employees skyrocketed from 94,000 in 2018 to just shy of 133,000 in 2021, so there is a new minimum wage for government work in Illinois and it’s $100,000-plus,” said OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski.

The audit found that nearly 500 educators in public schools earned salaries between $200,000 and $439,000. Several superintendents of school districts are pulling down more than $350,000 a year, including Edward Mansfield, the head of the Homewood Flossmoor school district, who made over $434,000 in 2021.

Eighteen retired school superintendents received $300,000 in retirement pensions, including Lawrence Wyllie from Lincoln-Way school district, who made $361,787.

City managers in Illinois made more money than all 50 governors. The city managers of Rolling Meadows and Evanston, and the village managers of Grayslake and Palatine all made more than $300,000 last year.

Andrzejewski said the startling figures are another reason Amendment One should be defeated in the Illinois statewide election.

“Amendment One would enshrine public sector unions with very aggressive negotiating advantages, for higher salaries, more perks and constitutionally-backed pension mandates,” Andrzejewski said. “Public sector employees, they don’t need any further help, they are living the good life right now.”

More here.

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JB Trust

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is using his personal trust fund to circumvent contribution limits in two races that will determine whether his party maintains its 4-3 majority on the Illinois Supreme Court.

Pritzker earlier this year signed into law a measure that limits contributions to a judicial candidate from “any single person” to $500,000.

In September, Pritzker’s campaign fund, JB for Governor, contributed $500,000 each to the campaigns of Democrats Elizabeth Rochford and Mary Kay O’Brien, who are running for two open seats on the high court. Last week, the billionaire entrepreneur and Hyatt Hotels heir dipped into his personal trust fund, Jay Robert Pritzker Revocable Trust, to give each candidate’s campaign another $500,000, state campaign finance records show.

The Illinois State Board of Elections historically has treated trusts as separate entities for the purpose of enforcing contribution limits, spokesperson Matt Dietrich said.

“Absent a complaint alleging a violation, we would not assess a penalty,” Dietrich said.

Pritzker’s contributions just ahead of the Nov. 8 election come as spending by the candidates and outside groups have once again made Illinois a leader in campaign spending for judicial races. A recent analysis by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found Illinois has seen the most spending so far among 28 states where voters are electing justices to their high courts this fall.

Last month, a federal judge blocked other judicial contribution limits Pritzker signed into law, including a measure that bans contributions in excess of $500,000 per election cycle from a single source to independent expenditure committees set up to support or oppose judicial candidates.

Read more here.

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52

The candidates in the 52nd House District include incumbent Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin and Democratic challenger Mary Morgan. (Provided by candidates)

While incumbent state Rep. Martin McLaughlin said the state of Illinois needs to cut its spending, Democratic challenger Mary Morgan said she appreciates a balanced budget but doesn’t want cuts to come from education.

McLaughlin, a self described “numbers guy,” is finishing his first term after winning election in 2020, said he sees his role as calling out expense spending by the Democratic supermajority in Springfield. Morgan, by contrast, said she will fight to fund programs, including education.

Before becoming a state representative, McLaughlin was a pension fund manager and the village president of Barrington Hills for eight years. Morgan spent several decades working in various marketing and management positions for Motorola and later the Brightstar Corp., before she took a job as an administrative assistant in the curriculum office at Wauconda School District 118 in 2021.

“Springfield has a spending problem,” McLaughlin said, noting that Illinois is ranked last among states by Moody’s credit rating.

“They need outsiders like me to explain to them how debt and high property taxes hurt families,” McLaughlin said. “We won’t get government bailout money again. But we already spent that money in this year’s budget. Where is that money coming from in the next budget? Middle class taxpayers, unfortunately.”

While McLaughlin said most of the time that means generating public awareness of financial issues, McLaughlin said he’s proud of sponsoring House Bill 4772, which deals with design-build contracts – where a single contractor provides design and construction services – that could lower construction and engineering costs for county projects. It unanimously passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law in May.

“Doing that as a Republican in the supermajority Democrat chamber was not easy,” McLaughlin said. “It shows that I can get things done.”

While Morgan, who touts her own business acumen working in the wireless industry, agreed it was important for politicians to have some understanding of business principles, she doesn’t think that governments need to be run as a business.

Read more here.

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333

A new survey by SmartAsset.com has found that New York, California and Illinois are losing more highly paid workers under 35 than they are gaining.

SmartAsset, a website that provides financial advice to young professionals, compiled the survey data by comparing the tax returns of workers making over $100,000 during the survey period of 2019 to 2020.

The Prairie State finished third, behind New York and California, for net loss of sought-after workers under 35. The District of Columbia and Massachusetts came in fourth and fifth behind Illinois for net loss of those workers, the survey found.

Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said the survey numbers are small, but businesses in Illinois continue to be concerned about retaining workers.

Illinois gained 6,527 highly paid professionals during  2019 and 2020, but it lost 9,386 comparable workers, SmartAsset found. That is a net loss of 2,859 top-talent workers.

“Whether you are a trucking firm or a McDonald’s franchisee or an IT consultant, everybody is competing for talent,” Maisch told The Center Square. “Illinois is still attracting talent, but the big thing that comes to my mind is, can we keep it?”

The most popular destinations for rich young workers are Washington state, Texas and Florida, SmartAsset found. Maisch said highly paid workers in their 30s are looking for mid-career lifestyles.

“Another state might not have the Chicago lakefront, but it can have a lot of things that Chicago has,” he said. “Recruiters from other states say, ‘We’re safer. We’re more stable. You won’t have to worry about the government zigging and zagging on you all the time.’ That’s our competition.”

More here.

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Springfield

Illinois ranks near the bottom of a new analysis of state finances across the U.S.

Truth in Accounting’s 13th annual Financial State of the States ranked Illinois 48th in the country, the same rank as last year. Only two other states, New Jersey and Connecticut, graded worse than Illinois for fiscal health. The review is of the states’ fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021.

The report notes that Illinois had about $39 billion available to pay nearly $250 billion worth of bills, a shortfall that breaks down to a burden of $49,500 per taxpayer. As a result, the state receives an “F” grade for its state finances.

Truth in Accounting noted that Illinois was extremely tardy when releasing its annual financial report. Illinois released its report more than 356 days after the end of the fiscal year, when the standard for timeliness is 180 days.

The report says Illinois’ financial problems stem mostly from unfunded public employee retirement obligations. Christine Kuglin, director of the Truth in Accounting Project at The University of Denver, said 2021 was beneficial for pension returns, but things have taken a turn for the worse.

“Those are subject to the same types of market fluctuations that we who have our own private pension funds, the governments are the exact same,” Kuglin said.

More here.

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Hart Road

“Great News. Hart Road is now OPEN!

Hart Road between Lake Cook Road and US 14 (Northwest Hwy) in Barrington had been closed since June 2 to construct a new bridge.

As part of the project, crews replaced aging triple culvert pipes with a new bridge. A new bike path was added on the bridge’s east side, and Hart Road is currently being resurfaced from south of US 14 to Lake Cook Road.

While the bridge is now open, road paving, pavement striping, and landscape restoration work is still in progress. Daily lane closures will be utilized to complete these remaining items. Crews have scheduled to pave the final pavement surface later in the week and the bridge deck grooving is planned for Saturday, Oct. 29.

We thank everyone for their patience while the road was closed. We also thank the contractor that worked throughout the summer to safely reopen the bridge ahead of schedule.”

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