Northwest Herald|Taxpayers United of America's president talks home rule in Woodstock

Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United for America, was quoted by the Northwest Herald about his speech “Home Rule is Home Ruin” presented in Woodstock IL.

WOODSTOCK – With the possibility of Woodstock becoming home rule, local voter advocacy group Voters in Action is encouraging residents to be informed and know what the designation could mean for the city.

 The group organized an event Wednesday night at the Woodstock Public Library, where about 45 people showed up to hear Taxpayers United of America President Jim Tobin’s take on the topic.
Tobin, who founded the taxpayer advocacy group in 1976, said his group characterizes home rule as the “most insidious” form of government in the country.
“The reason we think home rule is insidious is because it allows the city to raise property taxes without limit and without voter approval,” Tobin said, among other reasons.
In Illinois, when a municipality reaches a population of 25,000, it automatically becomes home rule, and Woodstock expects to reach that mark after a special census is conducted.
Advocates of home rule note the benefits, including giving more power to the people who know the community best, giving the city the ability to license landlords and create ordinances to require crime-free housing standards, and improving the city’s bond rating.

 Others feel the city should not be able to raise certain taxes allowed under home rule without voter approval, and have concerns about the elimination of the property tax extension limitation law, which does not apply to home-rule communities.

Woodstock resident and Voters in Action member Scott Gessert asked the Woodstock City Council to consider a policy that would limit the city’s home-rule power, and the council agreed to look at a policy in regards to notification, public hearings and limiting PTELL with an emergency provision – but not to consider an advisory referendum.
“[A referendum] is one of the most important controls voters have over their local government, and there is no good reason to give it up and hand the power to the bureaucrats,” Tobin said.
Woodstock City Council members and Mayor Brian Sager have said advisory referendums take time and money, and consideration of new taxes under home rule would be brought before the public at City Council meetings.
Joe Tirio, Voters in Action founder and Republican candidate for McHenry County recorder, asked for volunteers to help the group canvass newer neighborhoods in Woodstock that will be targeted by the special census. Volunteers will knock on doors May 21 and 22 to encourage residents not to participate in the special census, he said.
“Help us tell those people face to face that we aren’t going to sit and let them get the keys to almost unlimited taxing power,” Tirio said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can email
More information on home rule can be found on Voters in Action’s website at, Taxpayers United of America’s website at and the city’s website at

Wirepoints|The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund’s Shameful Bragging Tour – WP Original

Taxpayers United of America was quoted about the IMRF pensions by Wirepoints.

“Gall: Brazen boldness coupled with impudent assurance and insolence.”
–  Merriam-Webster Dictionary
By: Mark Glennon*
IMRF, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, went on a “statewide informational tour” last week. It was basically a brag fest. Illinois taxpayers should be appalled.
IMRF is the second largest pension fund in the state. It covers 100,000 employees and retirees of 3,000 Illinois municipalities who are not policemen, firefighters and those covered by state pensions. Among its boasts is that it will be reducing contributions made by municipal employers from 11.73% of payroll to 11.34%. Also, it’s “well funded,” in its words — about 87 % funded — far higher than most state and municipal pensions in Illinois.
Here’s why taxpayers should find IMRF’s grandstanding galling:

  •   If you’ve been wondering why Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation, often exceeding a suicidal four percent, count IMRF as one reason. IMRF is unique among Illinois state and municipal pensions because it’s empowered to force municipalities to raise property taxes to keep its funding up. That crowds out money for libraries, roads, schools, you name it. Taxpayers pay $2.50 for every $1.00 that IMRF member pay into their pensions, far higher than is typical in the private sector. Most IMRF retirees get Social Security, too, into which both they and municipalities contribute. For IMRF, municipalities around the state don’t face the impossible choice of either underfunding or raising taxes to cover contributions — as they do with police and fire pensions. IMRF just sends a bill for whatever it takes, which goes into property taxes.
  •  Even with its comparatively high funding level, IMRF is still short about $5 billion, which taxpayers will be on the hook for. Dropping employer contribution rates means little with taxpayers in hock for that $5 billion plus whatever else accrues.
  • IMRF offers its members, in addition to their pension, a “guarantied” 7.5% annual return savings account, effectively at taxpayer expense. As any saver today knows, guarantied long term rates are far lower than that (under 2.7%). Guess who guaranties the difference? Property tax payers. As with the pension obligations, IMRF can force automatic property tax increases as necessary to cover that savings account. We wrote in detail about those 7.5% accounts earlier.
  • IMRF members also get a “13th payment,” notorious in the pension world. That’s a sort of bonus check once a year in addition to their monthly pension payments, paid entirely by taxpayers, according to IMRF’s site.  It cost $42 million last year. A coalition of public unions gloated two years ago about killing a bill that might have ended it.•  IMRF’s accrued pension benefits have been growing at the pace of 7.2 percent a year since 2000, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, far faster than the 2.3 percent rate of inflation and beyond what city taxpayers can afford.
  • IMRF attributes its supposed success largely to the Tier 2 pension reforms, which it praises. They should be embarrassed if that’s what’s helping them look good. The Tier 2 pension reforms of 2010 are a disaster. They were “bulldozed through” the legislature by House Speaker Michael Madigan with no understanding of the consequences. Tier 2 employees — those hired after 2010 — pay in the same portion of their paychecks even though the cost of their benefits is 40% less than Tier 1 employees because Tier 2 benefits are far less than Tier 1’s. We’ve written in detail about the myriad problems in the Tier 2 “reforms,” linked here, here and here. The General Assembly has a legislative task force trying to figure out how to fix Tier 2 problems. We haven’t heard a peep on that, probably because they are stumped.
  • IMRF continues to peddle numbers about its positive economic benefit, but it looks at only one side of the equation. Eighty-five percent of its retirees remain in Illinois after they retire, supporting the the creation of nearly 16,000 jobs and $600 million in additional salaries, it gloats. Yeah, well, 100% of that money would have been spent in Illinois had municipalities been able to spend it on other services and there’s no reason to think that any fewer jobs would have been supported had the money been left with taxpayers to spend as they choose. IMRF measures only one side of the issue.
  • Why did IMRF, alone, get the right to force funding to keep it relatively healthy while cops and firefighters in many towns an cities face the certainty of having their pensions go broke? Who knows, but maybe it had something to do with mayors, county board members and other top brass politicos being in IMRF.
  • “Spiking” — jacking up end-of-career pay in order to artificially jack up the pension — is a recurring problem with IMRF members. The General Assembly is now considering special legislation to try to control it.
  • Members are supposed to work a minimum number of hours per year to get a pension, but questions persist about how well that’s enforced. As reported last week, some members of one county board weren’t even aware of that requirement.

The press is routinely suckered by IMRF’s propaganda. WTTW’s Chicago Tonight show has featured, at least twice, IMRF representatives showboating as a model as a successful pension, and they go unchallenged. The Rockford Register Star last week praised IMRF, saying it puts other pensions to shame. (They also repeated the absurd myth that 80% funding is healthy for a pension.)
IMRF is no model pension. It is, as Taxpayers United of America put  it, “the gold standard in taxpayer abuse.”
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

Northwest Herald|Voter advocacy groups to host home rule event in Woodstock

Taxpayers United of America’s President, Jim Tobin, was quoted by the Northwest Herald about his speech on May 11th about “Home Rule is Home Ruin”

WOODSTOCK – In response to a special census that could result in Woodstock’s recognized population growing above 25,000 and giving the city home-rule status, a taxpayer advocacy group will give a presentation about the effect home rule could have on the community.
Taxpayers United of America President Jim Tobin will present “Home Rule is Home Ruin” at 7 p.m. May 11 at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St. The presentation will examine what changes home rule brings and how they affect local taxpayers.
The home rule designation gives local government more control over matters ranging from taxation to licensing to regulating the protection of the public health, according to the Illinois Constitution.
Voters in Action requested Tobin’s presentation, said Joe Tirio, founder and Republican candidate for McHenry County recorder. The group has become a vocal critic of home rule based on its effect on the city’s ability to create and raise taxes.
“Given that dramatic change, we felt it was important to bring this to the residents,” Tirio said.
Woodstock city officials have responded to concerns by saying it would be irresponsible of them to not take advantage of getting the extra $151 in shared state revenue per person for the city, and that the city has a history of keeping taxes low for residents by not taking the property tax extension limitation law.