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CCCook County – Property owners for the first time can find out what portion of local government debt falls on them, thanks to a new, groundbreaking online tool created by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.

“Most reports identify government debt as an amount per person,” Pappas said. “My latest study takes a more targeted approach by showing debt in relation to each property in Cook County.”

The new, unique tool reveals that Willis Tower carries local government debt of nearly $289 million, equal to 41.5% of the iconic skyscraper’s $697 million value. A Riverdale house carries $31,800 in local debt, equal to 48% of its $67,000 value. And the debt on a house on Hodgkins has $127,400 in debt, equal to 25.7% of its $496,000 value.

By contrast, the debt on properties in more affluent, lower-tax areas, like Barrington Hills and Winnetka, falls below 10% of the value of the properties in those locations.

These new calculations are available at cookcountytreasurer.com, where property owners can click the purple box on the homepage and search their address to see their local debt burden compared to the value of their home in both dollar and percentage amounts.

The new methodology also allowed Pappas to better compare the overall debt burdens borne by residents of any Cook County city or village. That exercise revealed the burden of local government debt varies greatly throughout the county, with generally heavier burdens in less-affluent suburbs where the populations are more than 50% Black or Latino. The taxes tend to be much higher in many of those minority areas, an indication that more debt leads to higher property taxes.

“Property purchases in Cook County come with a hidden credit card balance, in the form of local government debt,” Pappas said. “Property owners end up paying down that debt, on top of also covering their mortgage, utility and maintenance costs.”

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220 Green

The Barrington District 220 Board of Education will be holding two meetings today.  Both notices were posted to the district website sometime after noon yesterday (those familiar with the Illinois Open Meetings Act take note).

A special meeting of the Board will be held starting at noon at the District Administrative Center, 515 W. Main St.  beginning with closed session.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The Board then meets again at 7 PM at the same location for their second regular monthly meeting. A copy of that agenda can be viewed here. This meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube.

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53 Greenway

First came the Illinois Prairie Path, one of the first rail-to-trail conversions in the United States. Later, The 606 trail in Chicago attracted crowds of bikers and runners and led to skyrocketing nearby property values. Now, a group of conservationists and elected officials in Lake County are pushing to turn a former proposed tollway corridor into a greenway — a trail through a long, narrow nature preserve.

Illinois lawmakers recently approved a resolution calling for a task force to study alternate uses for the proposed extension of Illinois Route 53 in the northwest suburbs. The effort picks up where Illinois tollway officials left off in 2019 when they dropped plans for the road.

Believers in the project cite it as an example of a popular trend away from highways and greenhouse gas emissions, and toward preservation of natural areas. Critics see it as a boondoggle for a relatively small number of people, rather than a project that could have served 100,000 drivers a day and spurred economic development.

While Republicans traditionally have supported road projects, the resolution passed unanimously in both chambers, suggesting growing bipartisan support for nature paths.

“These become beloved spaces where diverse residents, young and old, flock to get fresh air, walk, bike, and share a moment with each other,” said Gerald Adelmann, president and CEO of the nonprofit Openlands conservation group. “This is our moment to create that kind of legacy for our communities.”

Road builders see it differently. Mike Sturino, president of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, cited widespread past support for the expressway.

“The majority of working people suffer when you pull the plug on needed infrastructure,” Sturino said. “I like bike lanes, but we have to be realistic. It’s shocking when respectable officials are browbeaten by a radical fringe to go along with this reckless move.”

Read more here.

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Masks JBP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced June 10 that Illinois will move to a full reopening on June 11, but mask mandates and social distancing will remain a mainstay in Illinois schools.

Pritzker said it is critical that schools and day cares use and layer prevention strategies. The two most important ones are universal and correct use of masks, and physical distancing, which he said should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

Pritzker has enforced COVID-19 mandates by issuing 18 disaster proclamations, a practice that is now under fire from some state lawmakers.

“We are operating and moving down a dangerous path if we allow governors either today or in the future to declare emergency declarations as long as they want without input from the General Assembly,” state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-St. Charles, said.

Ugaste has House Bill 843 that would amend the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to require the governor to get legislative approval of consecutive disaster proclamations.

State lawmakers are also examining other COVID-19 fallout, including failings by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and their offices remaining closed, millions spent on hospital leases that were rarely or never used, and the severe backlog of Firearm Owners’ Identifications that doubled in the past 18 months.

Read more here.

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bhpd-logo-2-2021The 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 for discussion include:

  • Planting larger trees for outdoor arena area
  • Trainer Registrations: Who qualifies as a trainer?
  • Choose Board Member to review and select new Monitor Candidate

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

As a reminder, public bodies that have a website must post the agenda of any regular meetings of the governing body (i.e. County Board, Board of Trustees, Board of Commissioners, School Board, etc) at least 48 hours prior to said meeting per the Open Meetings Act.

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Face Nasks Required

As school districts kick can down the road, politicization widens and deepens

“Summer school begins this week in districts all over the state. Those in charge of the largest in Chicagoland, Barrington SD220, said at a June board meeting they were keeping the status quo.

Brian Harris, the retiring superintendent of SD220, said at the board meeting it was “premature” to make any decisions on masking for the 2020-21 school year and that the job of a superintendent is to follow the guidelines set by public health agencies.

That’s certainly been true for Chicagoland superintendents, especially outgoing ones like Harris. Throughout Covid, not one super at a high school north of I-80 has said anything publicly in defiance of public health guidelines. So Harris is staying true to The Code, parachuting out with his $200k pension and likely to set up a retirement residence outside of the state paid for by Illinois taxpayers.

(Not to pick on Harris. I don’t know the man and I’m sure he’s done a good job in his district, removing Covid from the equation. But would it have been that hard for him to say something like, “I know what current public health protocols are. But with where we are now, with what the data tells us, I believe we need to re-examine those protocols and do what is best of the children of District 220 and the state of Illinois.” One definition of leadership is speaking out in the face of injustices. Opportunity missed by Harris.)”

Read the full article from The Kerr Report here.

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BHS Sign

Will students be required to wear face masks when they return to classes this fall at Barrington High School and other Barrington District 220 schools? School board members are discussing the options.

Barrington Community Unit School District 220 board members are working to define the district’s position on face mask requirements for students, ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Brian Harris said last week he expects the Illinois State Board of Education to come out with new guidelines for the next school year.

“The state superintendent did reaffirm that the current mitigation requirements that we had at the end of the school year carry into summer school,” he said. “They have not changed anything at this point.”

Until there are updates to the guidelines, Harris said he will continue to follow those issued by state and local authorities, unless “directed differently by the board.”

Board member Erin Chan Ding said ISBE officials said in a recent webinar that mitigation requirements are not just guidelines, and districts should consider them requirements enforceable by law. The state could withhold funding for a district not in compliance, she said.

“That’s exactly how our attorneys have interpreted that for the past 15 months,” Harris added.

But board member Steve Wang said he has heard from district parents opposed to a mask requirement.

“There are plenty of school districts out there who have already said they are not going to follow this mandate,” Wang said. “Is that something that we’re willing to entertain?”

Read more here.

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BCFD

Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District broke ground on a $5 million fire station at 1004 S. Hough St.

Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District broke ground in late May for a new Fire Station 39 — the district’s third fire station — at 1004 S. Hough St. in an unincorporated area near the village.

Fire Station 39, at a cost of $5 million, will be the district’s third fire station. Officials said it will allow the district to respond to more than 90% of all emergency calls in six minutes or less.

“Today is a very exciting and important day; one that is seven years in the making,” Fire Chief Jim Kreher said.

The station is slated to be funded by reserves, though there has been some discussion about possibly financing a portion of the project — all without a tax rate increase, officials said. The station also will help reduce insurance premiums for some property owners, particularly in the eastern section of the district, officials said.

The project includes the work of Chicago-based Studio 222 Architects and Pepper Construction (of course) of Lake Zurich.

Source

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two-horsesThe Equestrian Commission meets this evening for the first time in a year at 6:30 PM. The agenda the commission submitted (and NO, we are NOT kidding) is as follows:

  • Public comments
  • [Vote] Minutes – June 1, 2020 (None providedas of this posting)
  • Old Business As presented (None presented as of this posting)
  • Old Business As presented (None presented as of this posting)
  • Adjournment

Click here to view and download the agenda as submitted.

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JB GerrymanderingThis decade’s redistricting process in Illinois has been marked by stumbles and self-serving partisanship.

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the Census Bureau from providing the detailed count of populations needed to accurately apportion districts of equal population, as required by the state and federal constitutions. But the Illinois General Assembly went ahead anyway, drawing predictably partisan maps.

Despite his repeated promises to veto any partisan maps, on June 4 Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed both the gerrymandered legislative and judicial maps lawmakers sent to his desk.

Legislative map

The Illinois Constitution establishes deadlines for the General Assembly to pass a plan for redistricting their own districts. Members must pass a plan by June 30, or the responsibility is delegated to a bipartisan commission made of four Democrats and four Republicans.

If that commission cannot approve a map with five votes by Aug. 10, a tie-breaking ninth member is chosen at random from the names of one Democrat and one Republican by Sept. 5. The expanded commission then has until Oct. 5 to file a redistricting plan approved by five members.

With the complete census numbers delayed until mid-to-late August and the tabulated numbers not available until the end of September, Illinois Democrats are left with a choice: draw the maps in the General Assembly without the complete census data, or let constitutional deadlines pass and send the redistricting responsibility to a bipartisan backup commission, and ultimately to a 50-50 chance of a Republican tiebreaker. The Democrats chose to use incomplete data.

Democrats in the General Assembly revealed their proposed maps after working behind closed doors. According to public hearings held on those maps, in lieu of complete census data Democrats used data from the 2019 American Community Survey. Those estimates are based on surveys of communities over the course of five years.

Read much more here.

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