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Daily Herald | Residents protest DuPage stormwater fee proposal


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TUA’s commentary on a new “rain tax” in DuPage County was featured in an article at Daily Herald.
DailyHeraldraintaxIt could take years for DuPage County officials to decide whether to impose a stormwater utility fee on every landowner in the county — but some residents already are organizing to oppose the idea.
More than 30 people staged a protest Tuesday night in front of the county administration building in response to a new state law giving DuPage the ability to charge property owners a fee to help pay for countywide efforts to control stormwater runoff.
The protesters who lined County Farm Road in Wheaton carried umbrellas and homemade signs that referred to the proposed fee as a “rain tax.” A government watchdog group issued a statement before the protest urging taxpayers to contact DuPage politicians.
“This bizarre bill allows ‘stormwater utility fees’ on all properties in DuPage County, including homes, businesses, schools, churches and forest preserves,” said Jim Tobin, president of the Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America. “This could be the largest tax increase in DuPage County history.”
The proposed fee would charge property owners based on use, similar to gas or water bills. Those who have more stormwater leaving their land would pay a higher fee. Anyone with land producing less stormwater runoff would pay a lower fee.
DuPage officials say the idea would make it possible for stormwater costs to be removed from property tax bills. They claim it could save homeowners money because every land owner in the county would have to pay it, including those who currently contribute nothing because they don’t pay property taxes.
However, opponents who took their complaints to Tuesday night’s county board meeting said the fee would put an undue burden on schools, churches, nonprofits and other tax-exempt entities.
“The people don’t want a stormwater fee on their property,” said resident Tom Sutton, who lives in Wayne. “This fee is unfair.”
Wheaton resident Janet Shaw questioned the county’s ability to accurately determine the amount of stormwater runoff individual residential properties are producing.
She also said it wouldn’t help land owners to encourage them to install expensive “green” infrastructures on their properties to reduce their fee.
“The whole thing makes no sense at all,” she said. “Nobody in this county wants it.”
Jim Zay, chairman of the county board’s stormwater committee, said it’s “very premature” for stormwater fee opponents to lobby the board because it could take two years before a final vote happens.
“We’re going to have an open process,” Zay said. “There’s a big timeline on this.”
He said nothing will happen until after a feasibility study is done to determine what stormwater needs exist in DuPage and how much it would cost to address them.
Feedback also would be sought from municipalities, businesses, community groups, residents and others.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re far away from finding out what’s going on,” Zay said.
Even if the stormwater fee is adopted, DuPage would spend two years doing public outreach and education before sending out the first bill.

My Suburban Life | Tax reform advocate group protests DuPage County stormwater bill

TUA’s commentary on a new “rain tax” in DuPage County was featured in an article at My Suburban Life.
dupageraintaxThe president of Taxpayers United of America called upon DuPage County taxpayers Tuesday to protest the possibility of a stormwater utility fee in DuPage County.

TUA President Jim Tobin called the possible fee a “rain tax.”
Tobin’s remarks come about two weeks after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 1522, allowing DuPage County to charge property owners a utility fee that would be based on the amount of stormwater displaced by property.
The bill requires a two-year planning and education process before the county can put the fee in place. The fee would require a county board vote.
“This bizarre bill allows ‘stormwater utility fees’ on all properties in DuPage County, including homes, businesses, schools, churches and forest preserves,” Tobin said in a statement. “This could be the largest tax increase in DuPage County history.”
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin has said the county stormwater fee would be more equitable than the current method of using property taxes to fund stormwater infrastructure, because a fee would be based on the amount of stormwater displaced by a property. The infrastructure improvements would aim to alleviate flooding issues during large rainfalls.
“If you’re a big developer and you put down a large, 50,000-square-feet parking lot of concrete, and you displace a lot of water to your neighbor downstream, you’ll pay more,” Cronin said when the House passed the bill. “If you take steps to install semi-permeable pavers and rain barrels at home, your fee will be a lot less, you’ll get credit for it. It’s the ultimate in responsible behavior policy.”
The county fee would be similar to the fee created by Downers Grove this year for village property owners. While the village of Downers Grove cut property taxes nearly $2 million this year to account for the separate fee, the county has not said whether it would cut property taxes in a similar fashion.

Shawano Leader | Group accuses Madsen of withholding public records


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Findings from TUA’s pension project on Shawano County, Wisconsin, are featured in this story from the Shawano Leader.
shawanoleaderThe leader of a Chicago-based organization claims Shawano County Administrative Coordinator Tom Madsen is withholding public records. Madsen says a spam filter is to blame.
Jim Tobin, president of the Taxpayers United Alliance (TUA), said in a news conference this week that Madsen has engaged in a series of stalls following the organization’s request for county employee salary and pension information.
“Thomas Madsen of the Shawano County administrative office has refused to provide the salaries for county employees in a series of stalls and excuses, designed to make us give up,” Tobin said Monday at the Shawano School District annual meeting.
Madsen initially said Tobin’s claims were “patently false,” but has since blamed the county’s spam filter for blocking some of the group’s emails.
“I think it’s grandstanding,” Madsen said Wednesday. “He picked the meeting of the Shawano School Board (to hold a news conference), so he had a captive audience. He decided he was going to throw a match on a can of gas.”
Madsen said he found out later Wednesday that the email servers had tagged several of the TUA emails as spam and blocked them. He said on Thursday the county’s technicians have fixed the problem.
The information Tobin seeks was to have been part of a report TUA released Monday showing public employee salaries and benefits, along with estimates on what they would earn from their pensions once they retire. Tobin released the group’s assumptions on employee pensions for the city of Shawano and the Shawano School District at the same news conference.
Both TUA and the county provided emails between Madsen and TUA’s executive director, Rae Ann McNeilly, that show the process started with a phone call on July 7 by McNeilly requesting all full-time employees’ names, titles, departments they work in and wages for 2012.
Madsen sent an email to McNeilly on July 8 saying that the county would furnish what she had requested, but it would cost the county an estimated $100 to compile the information.
“This is just an estimate,” Madsen wrote. “You will be billed for the actual time it takes to put together the report with the information requested.”
In TUA’s documents furnished to the Leader, McNeilly sent a reply dated July 9 that said, “Please proceed with the open records request. Please advise of the fee and we will forward a check.”
Madsen claimed he did not receive that email or any further correspondence from McNeilly until Aug. 12, when she sent an email asking if Madsen had received the July 9 email and again authorizing that TUA be billed for the cost.
An email from Madsen, also dated Aug. 12, to McNeilly stated that he did not receive her July 9 response, and that he had let the matter go. He again asked if the terms were acceptable and when the county could expect payment, after which he would get the information to her “as soon as possible.”
McNeilly sent a reply on Aug. 13 that she had said the terms were acceptable multiple times and had been anticipating a bill with the final costs.
“If you are now telling me that you will not proceed until a payment has been received, then make that clear with a clear final cost amount, and a remittance process, and quit stalling,” McNeilly wrote. “Do you have the report ready? I would be happy to phone a credit card payment right now or us mail a check, but I would expect in good faith, and having my authorization in writing, 4 times now, that you would provide the data immediately and anticipate receipt of our check.”
Madsen said Wednesday that he never received McNeilly’s Aug. 13 email and was unaware of it until the Leader asked him about it.
After officials checked the spam filter, Madsen sent an email to TUA apologizing for the delays and saying the county would prepare the information requested.
“We will prepare the information and then send an invoice for the cost to prepare. As soon as we receive payment, we will release the information to you,” Madsen wrote. “I apologize for the mix-up even though it appears to have been out of anyone’s control.”
McNeilly told the Leader on Thursday that she hoped Madsen’s statement was genuine, but noted that TUA had previous difficulties getting the same information two years ago, when Frank Pascarella was administrative coordinator.
“I will hope that he’s being forthcoming, and we will finish the deal,” McNeilly said. “If we have to jump through hoops, that’s what we do. That’s what I’m prepared to do. That’s why we’re successful; we don’t back down.”

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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