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CHICAGO—The president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today condemned the recommendation released May 13 under the letterhead of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to introduce a statewide 1% property tax to bail out the floundering government-employee pension plans in the state.
“This recommendation is not only astounding, it’s irresponsible,” said Jim Tobin, TUA president, economist and former Federal Reserve auditor.
“Illinois taxpayers already are heavily subsidizing the lavish, gold-plated pension plans of retired government employees. The $5 billion generated by the latest state income tax increase is being poured into the black hole of the state pension funds, and still the funds are essentially insolvent.”
“It’s impossible for the state to tax its way out of this mess, but tax thieves still propose new and higher taxes for Illinois taxpayers. More taxpayers have fled Illinois than any other state, but this doesn’t seem to register with tax-and-spend politicians.”
“The reasons given for this recommendation are pathetic. Because homeowners purportedly have benefited most from government ‘services,’ say the three authors of this proposal, they should pay a larger share of the costs of bailing out the state pension plans. In other words, they say the most successful people in the private sector should pay more to support these extravagant pension plans.”
“Illinois is bankrupt in fact, if not in name, and the only way to keep the state from going under is to place a state constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot to allow reductions in these pension benefits. All new government hires should be put into their own 401(k) accounts, and current retirees must greatly increase their contributions to their pension plans.”
“A statewide 1% property tax would devastate the already-feeble Illinois economy, and accelerate the departure of the middle class from Illinois.”
After receiving delays and denials to Open Records requests from the Village of East Dundee, I have grown convinced that something is seriously wrong, and questions need to be asked.
Since the Chicago Tribune-Courier News report, “Officials: East Dundee finances on road to recovery” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-east-dundee-finances-st-1108-20171107-story.html) back in November, I have been making inquiries of my own. In the article, the Courier reported on “financial irregularities” that occurred under former Administrator Bob Skurla’s watch. Here are a few of the more disturbing quotes:
- “East Dundee is taking steps to offset financial irregularities that include overstated revenue, excessive spending and a lack of budgetary controls, East Dundee Village President Lael Miller said….”
- “‘There were several things that raised my eyebrows,” Miller said.
- “There were several problems that I would categorize as accounting issues,” Miller said. “The way some monies were accounted for was not exactly clear.”
- “He [Miller] then met with Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen and Finance Director Zaida Torres, who raised their own concerns.”
- “There were some spending patterns and other items the board wasn’t aware of,” Miller said.
“What in the world is going on in East Dundee and why hasn’t the former Administrator, Bob Skurla, been prosecuted? If wrongdoing has taken place and the Village doesn’t prosecute, they won’t be able to access municipal insurance for restitution which would be a monumental failure of their fiduciary duty to taxpayers. In addition, if Skurla is found guilty, his pension should be taken away.”
If that isn’t disturbing enough, in a conversation I had with the current Village Administrator, Jennifer Johnsen–who was fired from her previous position with Campton Hills in 2016 for alleged Open Meetings Act issues–she stated that Skurla kept “two sets of books” and misrepresented finances with the board. Administrator Johnsen blamed Skurla for the $33 Million in debt according to the 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (if police pension debt is included, the Village of East Dundee population 3182, has over $40 Million of debt). The specter of Dixon, Illinois’ Rita Crundwell $54M financial fraud is rising as a pattern of obstruction from the Village of East Dundee is growing. Timeline of my personal investigation:
- November 2017 – The Chicago Tribune-Courier News article first exposed the fraud allegations
- December 2017 – My conversation with Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen where she blames the $33 Million in debt and financial fraud on Bob Skurla.
- January and February 2018 Open Meetings Act violations by the village (being investigated by the IL Attorney General).
- February Freedom 2018 of Information requests being denied because emails between Bob Skurla and Trustees were deleted.
- March 2018 Freedom of Information requests being delayed and denied looking for evidence between East Dundee Finance Director Torres and Administrator Johnsen. These denials are being investigated by the IL Attorney General.
“I have asked for and received notice that the Attorney General’s Office is investigating the denial of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. There is also an Open Meetings Act (OMA) violation that is being pursued. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard along with a press that will hold them accountable. Again, I have to ask, what is going on in East Dundee and what are they trying to hide?”
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CHICAGO—The president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today condemned the politicians running the Village of Merrionette Park, IL, for using taxpayer dollars to urge its taxpayers to give them unlimited Home Rule taxing powers.
“Home Rule is the most insidious form of local government in the U.S.,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President. “It eliminates the protection of property tax caps and allows local governments to raise taxes without limit, and to create new taxes with which to bludgeon taxpayers.”
“Home Rule gives no advantages to taxpayers, but is a gift to local politicians who want to raise taxes. The highly misleading Village mailing entitled ‘Is Home Rule Right for Merrionette Park?’ states that ‘The Village Board commits to No Increase in Property Tax should this pass.’ It adds, ‘And, keep in mind, voters can always rescind if home rule isn’t for them’.”
“Once local politicians get unlimited Home Rule taxing powers, they will use every trick in the book to keep taxpayers from repealing it.”
“It’s disgraceful that taxpayer dollars are being used to convince the same taxpayers to put their heads in the noose of Home Rule. It is essential that every taxpayer in Merrionette Park vote ‘NO’ on this Home Rule referendum.”
“Once taxpayers give up their rights, it’s very hard to get them back.”