Downsizing Government in McHenry County

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Chicago – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) announces its endorsement of the McHenry County initiative to consolidate townships from 17 to 8.
“There’s an exciting new trend in Illinois politics: people are pushing ideas to shrink the size and cost of government across the state,” stated TUA president, Jim Tobin.
One such movement is afoot in McHenry County. Longtime proponent of township consolidation, Bob Anderson, has finally gained support from Mike Shorten, Nunda Twp. Trustee and chairman of McHenry County Citizens for Township Consolidation (MCC4TC).
“It’s obvious that this would save taxpayers money, about $40 million over the next 10 years according to MCC4TC estimates.”
“This is great news for taxpayers in McHenry County and we will put our full support behind this initiative. We encourage other government bureaucracies to start thinking in terms of solutions that actually reduce tax burdens instead of automatically pushing for tax increases to fund the status quo.”
“The toughest part of consolidation is fighting the small-minded government bureaucrats who stand to lose their empires…and their pensions!”
“It’s long past time that more elected officials start thinking in terms of what is best for the taxpayers rather than what is best for themselves. Illinois is the poster-child for self-serving politicians whose policies harm the very taxpayers for whom they should be advocating.”
For this initiative to advance, the County Board must agree to put referendums on the ballot in March of 2016. Those townships that approve the referendum would proceed to consolidate while those that don’t would continue as their own government unit.
For more information on the McHenry County Citizens for Township Consolidation or to make a donation, visit

The Only Good Boondoggle is a Dead Boondoggle

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Chicago – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) and Illinois taxpayers have reason to celebrate today after the announcement Tuesday evening that Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has indefinitely suspended the Illiana Expressway, among other cuts to state expenditures.
“Taxpayers should not subsidize massive and unnecessary crony construction projects, especially when Illinois taxpayers are desperately looking for both tax relief and leadership from Springfield,” said TUA’s operations director, Jared Labell. “Killing this project shows taxpayers that Rauner’s tough budget cuts include sensible opposition to extravagant government spending on an unwanted expressway.”
The project was estimated to cost taxpayers more than $1.1 billion to construct, in addition to the very real threat of taxpayers being forced to make up the difference for insufficient revenue once completed.
Among other announced cuts estimated to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, Rauner has suspended Edge tax credits and tax breaks for the movie industry, which have always served to subsidize business at the expense of taxpayers.
Rauner also immediately halted all Illinois State Police vehicle purchases, but that decision did not go far enough, said Labell. “The Illinois State Police are the Praetorian Guard for the political class and are inessential. If Rauner really wants to shake up Illinois, he should consider drastic cuts to the superfluous Illinois State Police force and save taxpayers untold billions in expected salaries, benefits, and pension costs.”
TUA published an analysis of the Illinois State Police in April 2013, conducted by its sister research organization, Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF) and covered by CBS 2 in Chicago. The analysis detailed the huge unfunded pension liabilities posed by the Illinois State Police and publicized the department’s top 200 pensions, all above six-figures.
“The funding suspensions announced yesterday were a good start at pushing back against the Madigan-Cullerton spending spree they call a budget,” said Labell. “But the Rauner Administration must continue to look for other systemic cuts and reforms to stop the financial fiasco Illinois is facing.”

The Herald News | Pension issues highlighted in Taxpayers United report

Taxpayers United of America’s operations director, Jared Labell, was quoted by The Herald-News in an article about Taxpayers United of America’s recent pension release for both Will County and Joliet.

TDHArtThe two top police officials in Elwood also get two of the highest pensions from the Joliet Police Department, according to a report last week from Taxpayers United of America.

 “Hard-earned money,” Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes said when asked about his $120,000-plus annual pension from his 31 years with Joliet, where he retired in 2011.
Both Hayes and Elwood Commander Pat Kerr retired from Joliet to take jobs as the No. 1 and 2 officers in the Elwood Police Department. Kerr’s pension also tops $120,000, according to Taxpayers United.
“I think in today’s economic climate, regardless of what field they’re in, many retirees from one company go to work for another company,” Hayes said, noting that he knows educators in the public sector and engineers in the private sector who have done the same thing.
A look at the list of pensions compiled by Taxpayers United shows some other retirees working elsewhere.
Steve Engledow, chief of the New Lenox Township Fire Department, is a retired deputy chief from Joliet with an annual pension of $116,000, according to Taxpayers United.
The second-highest government pension in Will County is the $239,000 paid to John Harper, who retired as superintendent of Plainfield School District 202 in 2014 and became principal at Providence Catholic High School.
Jared Labell, director of operations for Chicago-based Taxpayers United, agreed that private sector employees also retire with a pension only to make more money working elsewhere.
But Labell said private businesses are harder pressed to put pension plans in line with revenues.
“At the very least, that has to be determined from the business perspective that if we’re giving that percentage to our employees, we also have to stay afloat as a business,” Labell said.
Taxpayers United has been on a pension crusade for months, spotlighting government pension benefits for state employees and in counties across Illinois. The release of Will County numbers was its latest report aimed at drawing attention to the size of government pensions.
Labell said Taxpayers United does not want to change what retirees are getting. But it does want to see changes in what new employees get and even what current employees put into their pensions.
“We understand that people who decided to be police officers and teachers went in with expectations,” he said.
But Labell said he hears from young police officers and teachers worried retirement money won’t be there because of government pension problems.
Hayes, who also is president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said he, too, hears that concern from young police officers.
“They’re asking if these funds are sustainable and if they will be available in the future,” Hayes said. “It is important that we make some changes so the system is sustainable.”
One of the top pensioners at Joliet Junior College is Andy Mihelich, a former administrator who gets $138,000 a year. Mihelich is retired, but active. He is chairman of the Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees and just ran an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Joliet.
Mihelich said he has been prepared for his pension to be capped.
“I thought there would be pension reform in Illinois,” he said. “I’ve been waiting, but no one in Springfield seems to want to do anything.”