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This is an artist’s rendering of one of the seven apartment buildings planned for the Plum Farms development at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72. A Cook County judge last month dismissed a lawsuit Barrington Unit District 220 filed over the proposal.

Barrington Unit District 220 won’t challenge a Cook County circuit court judge’s decision last month to dismiss a lawsuit the school system filed against Hoffman Estates and developers of the stalled Plum Farms proposal at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72. Hoffman Estates’ development agreement limits Plum Farms to 1,250 homes of various types. The most recent plan submitted by a development partnership calls for 1,035.

But the last indication of progress on Plum Farms was interrupted by the filing of a lawsuit in July 2017 by residents of the nearby Regency at the Woods of South Barrington retirement community.

District 220 intervened in the complaint on the side of the residents, with the developer and village named as defendants. The density of the proposed development and the potential for additional students’ costs to exceed the increase in tax revenue were at the heart of the school district’s concerns.

While the residents’ original lawsuit was settled last summer, District 220 kept its part of the case active until it was dismissed in December. School board President Penny Kazmier announced at a meeting Tuesday night that the district will not pursue any further legal action in the case.

Read more here.

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The Daily Herald reports Barrington plans to start a “Curious Questions with Karen Darch” podcast.

Darch, who is Barrington’s top elected official as village president, and others are expected to answer residents’ questions in the podcast segments that should run 20 to 30 minutes.

Patty Dowd Schmitz, the village’s director of communications and community engagement, said work continues on logistics and determining a platform for the podcast.

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Every year around this time, we reach out to Northwest suburban mayors and village presidents and ask them to tell us something their community accomplished in the year gone by and something they hope to accomplish in the year ahead. Today, we share the accomplishments of 2019. On Wednesday, we’ll tell you what the mayors hope to see in 2020.

Martin McLaughlin, Barrington Hills

The Village of Barrington Hills is on track to, once again, lower the levy, making it the sixth consecutive year. Since 2013, the village Levy has been reduced by more than 24%. We will continue to lead by example, responding to our residents’ desire to see tax relief.

In 2019, the Village of Barrington Hills approved a revitalized Comprehensive Plan, which was recognized by the Barrington Area Council of Governments. The innovative format allows residents and those interested to explore the unique property rights and freedoms available within our 30-squar- mile village.

In conjunction with our continuing efforts to preserve natural habitat and open spaces, the Village of Barrington Hills has been recognized and certified as one of the first Bee Cities in Illinois, which was showcased at The Hills Are Alive Fall Festival this past September with a honey-tasting competition.

Read the full year end summary from the Daily Herald here.

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Buckle up buckaroos, the March 17 220 referendum marketing blitz is about to start.

A guarantee of a safer future for residents, both a failed and a renewed quest for a referendum to upgrade the area’s schools and new faces in local government were among the top 2019 news events for the Barrington area.

School referendum fails, District 220 to try again

After voters rejected a $185 million referendum by Barrington School District 220 in the April 2 election, the Board of Education formally decided to put a scaled back $147 million question on the March 17, 2020 primary ballot.

After the April vote, board members started a four-month discussion evaluating what needs were most important for the district’s elementary and middle schools as well as Barrington High School. They also looked at the best ways to communicate their message.

Board members said a break-even referendum, rather than one which raised taxes, might be more palpable for voters. The $145 million proposal will actually result in district property owners paying less taxes than they are now. Superintendant Brian Harris said the owner of a $500,000 home will pay approximately $76 less for the district’s portion of the tax bill than their current amount.

Read more from the Barrington Courier-Review here.

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As Barrington Community Unit School District 220 administrators get used to their roomier headquarters since moving there in May, district officials and the Board of Education could soon learn how much of the $2.6 million investment will be recouped.

Superintendent Brian Harris said the board decided two years ago that it made more economic sense to sell the then-existing 12,413 square foot building at 310 James Street in downtown Barrington and find a new facility.

Harris said the board then approved in late 2017 the purchase $1.1 million of a 20,237 square foot structure located directly across from Barrington High School, and closed on the transaction in February 2018. The district then spent more than a year on a $1.5 million renovation.

The school district is required by law to sell school real estate through a bidding process, and the board is expected to learn how much of its $2.6 million payout on the new digs will be recovered when bids are opened Oct. 29 at the district office. The minimum bid on the old building will start at $900,000.

Read more here.

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Paula Jacobsen

The latest Village newsletter came out recently, and it mentions the results of the latest Village annual audit among other things. The sound financial position of our Village is noted, but what is absent of any narrative is how earlier this year, first term trustee Paula Jacobsen caused a potentially damaging accusation that caused the auditor to investigate that accusation.

One question Jacobson was asked to answer during the audit was:

“In your opinion, are there any areas of operation of the Village that do not receive enough oversight of management or board, or any particular weaknesses in internal controls?” 

Jacobsen checked off “Yes.” As a Trustee, she could have taken the opportunity beforehand to gather specific information and to offer a detailed explanation or perhaps even actual facts, but instead submitted her vague audit questionnaire on March 17, 2019 (perhaps hoping to disrupt the April 2 election?).

Jacobson had a wealth of resources at her disposal for weeks before if she had any questions whatsoever on completing her forms from the audit firm. She could have easily gathered information from the Village Treasurer, Director of Administration, Clerk or even the Trustee assigned to Finance, but she did not avail herself of those ample opportunities according to recordings. She could have provided an answer to the question she was asked instead of repeating an anonymous rumor told to her by some residents.

Instead, when asked why she answered “Yes” to the audit question, her initial answer was:

“While I don’t know that it is considered fraud, but some residents have claimed that contracts are being given to certain members of family of the Board, however, that is not evidence of guilt. I don’t know that we have a clear process to evaluate this if in fact this is happening.   I’m not aware of any contract awarded to a Board member.” 

The first thought that came to our minds upon hearing this was that of an immature four-year-old who answers the question “why did you eat those cookies?” with, “Someone said I could.”

Though asked repeatedly, Jacobson would not, or more probably could not offer any specificity to her unsubstantiated allegation, and at times her answers to Trustees questions on her inexplicable answer changed from one minute or meeting month to another.

For example, before the auditor was asked to read back her answer to the question in the presence of the Board, Jacobsen denied checking the “Yes” box repeatedly. She also denied making any claim or charge of process or fraud issues, and she only began to recant her statements once the village president asked the auditor to read them into the record.

Jacobson also stated on more than one occasion that she understood that her responses to all audit questions were private and would be kept anonymous.   Those wishing to listen to the recording of this exchange can do so by clicking here.

She followed up at the June Board of Trustees meeting by reading a written statement that actually reversed her position in May. She stated she believes that fraud and processes have been violated at the Village, and further she made a secondary allegation that the auditing firm was not independent thereby impugning the reputation of the village treasurer, the independent auditor and the finance chairman Mr. Croll and the Village board.

If this sounds pathetic, it is, and it goes on (and on). Rather than continue with what is basically transcribing her lunacy from recordings, we have a better solution for all involved.

The solution to this problem will be for the village to spend further taxpayer dollars to “investigate” the rumor that someone repeated to Jacobson, and then hopefully follow that by providing educational information to Jacobson on the importance and serious nature of the annual financial audit so that in the future she may confidently answer the audit questionnaire with facts instead of vague, unfounded rumor.

-The Observer

Related: Flip, Flop: What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni, and Selman?  (August 30, 2011)

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Barrington School District 220 officials plan to have two major safety upgrades completed by the start of the upcoming school year, according to a recent newsletter from the district.

Construction has begun on installation of a secure vestibule at an entrance of Barrington High School. It is being built at Entrance 45 of the school, which is to the lower left side of the main entrance, the newsletter states.

School officials say in the newsletter that students and visitors will only be allowed to use that entrance once the school day starts.

Over the past couple of years, the district has been implementing the secure vestibules at each of its 12 schools. The high school is the last to receive it, said Assistant Superintendent Craig Winkelman.

“It will give us a secure entryway into the school campus so that people will have to check in there and screen before entering into the high school,” Winkelman said.

Read more here.

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