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Elgin budget cuts could be severe

11 November 2011 RS 96 Comments

Bluff City Cemetery, Elgin IL Bluff City Cemetery, Elgin IL (Photo by The Elginite).

At Elgin’s budget talks on Friday afternoon with city council and staff, Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall laid out three possible budgets for the City of Elgin, which is facing a deficit of some $13M in the coming year. At one extreme, the first proposed budget would be based entirely on new taxes, with no cuts to spending. At the other extreme, one budget is based entirely on cuts and no new revenue. It would require reducing city hall headcount by more than 100 positions, including 30 firefighters and 20 police officers, closing two fire stations, and closing all recreation facilities.

Mr. Stegall also proposed a “balanced approach” which would require raising taxes but also include cutting 12-15 full time positions.

The next budget meeting is scheduled for the two hours before the regular city council meeting on Wednesday, November 17th 2pm, November 16th at the Centre. The budget should be finalized by December 7th and formally adopted on December 21st.

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96 Responses to “Elgin budget cuts could be severe”

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  1. RS says:

    Ted Schnell has a good summary of the proposed budget and alternatives:


    Proposed budget: The proposed budget, Stegall said, represents a balanced approach to ending a $4.5 million deficit by stabilizing the city’s property tax revenues, adding other fees and making cuts, including the equivalent of 12 to 15 full-time positions. Other key points in this proposal include that all Elgin fire stations would remain open and there would be no layoffs of firefighters or police officers; snow removal and code enforcement would remain unchanged, and there would be a minimal to moderate impact on recreation programs and facilities.

    On the revenue side, the city would set a property tax levy of $42 million, the same level as in 2011; charge homeowners $18 per month for trash removal; add .5 percent to the city’s home-rule sales tax, bringing it to a total 1.25 percent, to provide continued funding for street improvements, including those that are part of the combined sewer separation projects.

    Finally, this alternative includes a $2 million transfer from the city’s riverboat fund into the general fund. Those monies represent what the city allocated for social services funding in 2011.

    Alternative A: This proposal shows no impact on city expenses and at that level might seem most appealing in terms of avoiding painful decisions.

    The pain on this one comes in higher fees and taxes. As in the proposed budget, this “revenue only” alternative also proposes a $42 million property tax levy. But the trash fee would be $24 a month, and the home-rule sales tax would increase to 1.75 percent from .75 percent. Finally, this proposal would add a 2 percent food and beverage task in Elgin.

    Alternative B: The final option Stegall offered to the council was the “expenses only” budget, which would include draconian cuts in terms of personnel and services. This option anticipates the elimination of the equivalent of 110 full-time positions, which would include 30 firefighters, 20 police officers and 19 public works employees related to snow removal, as well as a reduction in the number of code enforcement officers.

    As part of those cuts, Stegall said, this scenario anticipates closing two fire stations, reductions in snow removal routes, and the closure of all city recreation facilities and Hemmens Cultural Center.

    Stegall said that because this option has no revenue enhancements — most notably, this option maintains the $1.92 property tax rate — it creates a deficit of much as $13 million that must be slashed to make expenditures match revenue.

    I say go for the doomsday budget. We’ll see what happens. If residents can’t handle it, then do it different in 2013. It’s just one year.

    Who gets to decide what positions are eliminated? Is it all up to the manager or does the council have a say?

  2. One Vote says:

    They are still thinking like government, and not a family on a budget.
    When you lose your job and wind up with another one paying less, YOU ADJUST.
    Sell the boat. Sell the cabin at the lake. Switch to noodles and turkey burgers. Rent a movie instead of go to the movies.
    I’m afraid they would be best off to take the most extreme approach here and recall workers as they are able.
    That said, I think the austere budget is more scare than a genuine effort to prioritize. Mention police, fire and snow and you get a reaction.
    But how bad can it be when you have $30K for a costume party and $20K for the storefront of a pizza joint?
    The trouble is that Elgin has been pretending there isn’t a recession for the last three years and that makes matters worse.
    Going back to the well for a tax increase or new fees is wrong-headed thinking.

    • RS says:

      The interesting thing is how close the “balanced approach” is to the revenue only approach. Both call for a $42M tax levy.

      I think it makes sense to cut firefighters and police. They are the most highly paid workers on the payroll and that’s where you’re going to make savings. The city will be fine with fewer police and fire. As for firefighter’s overtime, they should stop that and hire part-time workers where necessary. Maybe some of the guys that are let go can come back as part-timers with no pension expenses, etc.

      I’m sure there are plenty of other positions that can be eliminated, including assistant city manager.

  3. Chuck Keysor says:

    Right on One Vote! The tough option was painted in the bleakest of all possible terms, so that people would BEG the City to raise taxes! I hope we don’t fall for that trick. We need to cut. But there are many ways to cut without simply cutting heads!

    They can cut excess property from the cities vast, idle inventory. And did the City even discuss selling Bowes Creek, or selling off any of the HUNDREDS of unused excess properties that they own all over town? Not only would these sales bring in cash, (sell at auction for quick conversion to cash at MARKET value. Many of these properties have been held so long, that they would still be sold at a profit.) but they would put these properties back onto the tax rolls.

    And what about cutting our City’s BLOATED pay scales? As noted in an earlier post, our City Manger gets paid more than US Senators. They all get paid far more than jobs they could find anywhere else. And we in part got into this bind before, because we USED to be able to afford to pay these outrageous salaries. But guess what, we can’t afford them any more! We don’t have the money. Let everyone on City staff above $70,000 per year get a 25% pay cut, and they would still be doing very well.

    And what about cutting over-time? The City paid over $6million in overtime last year. City Staff always says it is cheaper to do over-time, instead of adding extra employees. But what about adding part time employees? They don’t have to pay benefits to the part-timers. And part-timers get paid way less per hour anyway. So hire part timers, and kill off the over-time. They could have part-timers do the police work that costs lots, like barrade work on July 4th parade, Halloween night citizen patrol supervisions, etc. And considering that MANY communities have VOLUNTEER fire departments, it is entirely conceivable that one could hire part time fire-fighters. Has this ever been discussed, since $6 million for over-time is huge.

    And remember, that these deficit projections are totally unstable. Even the City said that $13,000,000 is totally conservative. IE, it probably is too high. Councilman Prigge told me something that made sense in this regard. We don’t really know what the deficit will be. Why not make what cuts we can make now that are straightforward, (presumably things like the Riverboat funds) and then see where we REALLY are next year. Then move forward based upon knowing the facts instead of projections. (This isn’t a quote, but it is the essence of what he said. But I agree with this as another important consideration.)


  4. Chuck Keysor says:

    Let’s put this $18/month trash fee into perspective. And we can not ignore the fact that we have ALWAYS paid for our trash collection. It was just not broken out into a separate bill.

    To ADD $18 per month for 12 months, is $216 per year. My property tax bill last year was a little over $5,000. And the part that went to the City of Elgin, was close to $1000. If you add on $216 per year, you have effectively increased my taxes to the City by 21.6%!

    That is a huge increase, and is NOT acceptable. To put $216 into my perspective, that is more than 11 weeks of groceries for me.

    Also, in looking at other City’s websites, those cited by Elgin as examples of trash fees, there are many options. Aurora and St. Charles which the City said charge $15/month and St. Charles $16.50 a month, is not really true. You can pay that IF you choose to get a big roll-around cart like Elgin. But in those two cities, you can also just put out a trash bag, with a $2.60 sticker. Considering the fact that I am a bachelor, I put out one trash container a month, and could easily just have to spend $2.60 to $5.20 per month, and not $15 the way the City makes it appear. More partial truths by the City.

    • One Vote says:

      They are indeed going back to the citizens for more money, no matter how you look at it.
      Sales tax and trash tax are good examples.
      Did anything come of the utility taxes?

    • Dan Miller says:

      $18 per month is a pretty big hike for many of the citizens on the lower income. Such a fee is a regressive tax that puts an unfair burden on the poorest of our community.

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      Chuck if its not on the bill its LEGALLY not there.
      Do you sign blank checks to your bill collector.
      Remember they did away with CITY workers collecting trash, so its not the city anymore you pay. And they have NO control over what a waste company will charge, and IT WILL BE MORE when the contract ends…
      Maybe we can use more boat money…..LOL

  5. Fact Not Fiction says:

    You people are not only short sighted but ignorant to the way your own city works.IF YOU PAY TO REMOVE YOUR GARBAGE how is that a tax increase for the city? Oh, I forgot its included in your City Tax right? Where on your tax bill does it say Trash pickup? I get a direct bill from waste management every 3 months, not the city.Remember we did away with “city workers” picking up the garbage? It went private?
    You really should not be beating up the city, but U46 teachers who make more then most city workers,if not all. U46 is 70% of your tax bill with more then 3000 workers for about 50,000 kids. $4000 of your tax bill. City workers 648 for 108000 residents. They plow snow, patch holes, paint buildings, keep buildings (old) in repair, guard your house, put out your fires, pave your streets, man your pools and keep the water safe, to name afew. Tax rate for CITY the same as 1991?
    How much did U46 go up in that time? I bet more then zero. Think about that.

  6. Fact Not Fiction says:

    One Vote,
    Stop whining like a girl having your hair pulled.
    You just like to see your name published.
    You want you pay, or move somewhere else, Where you WILL
    pay more in taxes if you like it or not.

  7. RS says:

    link for the proposed budget


    The 2012 Budget is structured on a foundation that stabilizes the property tax levy at $47.25 million, a $3 million reduction from the $50.1 million peak year levy in 2010. The proposed property tax levy remains stable until 2014 when revenue streams will be diversified to further reduce reliance on property taxes. The 2012 Budget also includes additional spending cuts totaling $4.8 million: $2.8 million in expenditure reductions from the General Fund and $2 million from the Riverboat Fund.

    The $2.8 million General Fund expenditure cuts are achieved with further workforce reductions totaling $1.7 million, the third such reduction in force since 2008; eliminating $677,000 in subsidies to the Recreation Fund with workforce reductions, and; by creating a new business model for the Hemmens Cultural Center. Fall leaf pickup is eliminated for a savings of $300,000. And economic development funding to the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce is reduced by $125,000.

    The $2 million Riverboat Fund expense reductions are derived by achieving $107,270 in current project savings; eliminating $500,000 for vehicle replacement for 2012; discontinuing $367,730 in outside agency funding; ending the $825,000 senior citizen rebate, and; foregoing $200,000 in historic grant programs for 2012.

    The Riverboat Fund transfer to the General Fund is $3.7 million in the 2012 budget, a $2 million increase from historic transfer levels. This increased transfer allows the property tax levy to remain at last year’s level and eliminates the need to identify multiple new revenue streams to address the structural deficit.

    The $4.5 million structural deficit is addressed through an $18 per month refuse collection fee that will also provide funding for the payments on the required $12 million upgrade of the City’s emergency communications system.

    A half-cent increase in the City’s sales tax that will not go into effect until July 2012 will initially provide $1 million in revenue for a Capital Improvement Fund and generate approximately $3.2 million annually for continued street improvements.

    The Budget Task Force unanimously recommended that:

    The City Council should critically examine employee compensation and benefits as well as appropriate service levels making concerted efforts to reduce costs in those areas. If the City Council determines that revenue increases are necessary, it should consider the various revenue sources identified in the comparative revenue survey prepared by the staff.

    The 2012 Budget follows this recommendation and is proposing revenue increases only after implementing $4.8 million in spending cuts from both the General Fund and the Riverboat Fund. The Budget Task Force also recommended that the Riverboat Fund be prioritized for supporting core services. Consistent with that direction, an additional $2 million transfer from the Riverboat Fund to the General Fund is being proposed to support the core services provided under the General Fund. This transfer eliminates the need to identify another new revenue stream to alleviate the General Fund’s structural deficit beyond the refuse collection fee. While the Budget Task Force recommended that the City continue abiding by the Riverboat Fund Policy resolution restricting Riverboat proceeds to capital expenditures, one-time non-operating expenditures and agency funding, strict adherence to this policy would require identifying additional revenue sources other than the refuse collection fee and half-penny sales tax increase.

    Good chart on this page:


    • Terry Gavin says:

      Thanks RS for the link to proposed city budget. A well written document but all of the revenue projections are only estimates. The fact is that the city doesn’t know for sure how much revenue it has recieved for 2011 end of year till sometime early next year. That’s one reason the deficit estimate has swung from $4.5m to $13m.

      • paul says:

        “That’s one reason the deficit estimate has swung from $4.5m to $13m”

        Wrong, TG. But you are consistent. 2011 revenue effects 2011 deficit. For you to be claiming on 11/16/11 the city has no idea what 2011 revenues will be, is patently absurd.
        It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out 2012 deficits were going to be significantly higher than the $4.5M projected earlier, when the DesPlaines casino opened and GV casino stating their revenues were down significantly.

        How’s is your projection working out that the City won’t raise taxes and fees because the citizens’ budget committee told them not raise taxes and fees!!!!

        • Terry Gavin says:

          Paul you’re the one who’s absurd the whole purpose of the Budget Task Force was to deal with a projected “deficit” for the year 2012 NOT 2011. The budget for this year is balanced. It’s next years budget that’s the issue at hand.

          Oh btw one thing in this year’s(2011) that’s not being reported is the fact that nearly $1m in Senior Citzen Tax rebate checks aren’t going out. That Paul is a $1m bump in THIS years revenues not included in this year’s budget. Your mixing & spinning what I’ve said & what the real issue is to what ends I’ve got no idea. GV’s revenues have been way down for the last 3 years not just since the River’s opened.

          My statements about the Budget Task Force recommendations were not my projections but simply a statement of fact that’s what they said! I know the council will raise taxes/fees because the majority of the council isn’t listening to the people. What exactly is your problem with me & my opinons? Is it personal or is it that you’ve got someting to gain from attacking me? Btw why not give your full name so we can debate this mano y mano.

          • Fact Not Fiction says:

            Paul just does not have a…… like the scarecrow in the wizard of oz.

          • paul says:

            “deal with a projected “deficit” for the year 2012 NOT 2011. ”

            That is what I said, Terry. But it is NOT what you said.
            You said “deficit” for 2012 has ballooned because the City didn’t know what their 2011 revenues would be.

            Btw, not spending $1M on senior tax rebate in 2011 was not a bump in revenues. It is a reduction in “spending”.

            “GV’s revenues have been way down for the last 3 years not just since the River’s opened. ”

            Yet ELgin balanced the budget for the past 3 years! AND please tell me why the 2012 projected deficit ballooned last month from $4M to $13M. Very bad try on the BS spin.

            “Btw why not give your full name so we can debate this mano y mano”

            We aren’t debating “mano Y mano” now? Do you want to debate me in Spanish? Ohhh, you want to meet face to face so you can … debate me about the Rivers casino not causing a precipitous drop in GV revenues, which we can’t do effectively here???? Okay. Choose a time and public place. How about the lobby of the Elgin Police Station!
            As to not giving my full name, I’m trying to keep the drive-by shootings on my street to a minimum from people who get upset at having their BS exposed.

  8. One Vote says:

    Live within your means. Don’t just go to the well for more revenue.

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      And let everyone else pay for it right?
      Are you paid the same as 1991?
      Your tax rate has stayed the same for all that time.
      Has food, drugs, pop, beer gone up since 1991?
      You bet.
      How about materials, supplies, and skilled workers?
      Has U46 who has the BIGGEST amount taken for property tax
      changed since 1991? (strange that none of the whinners here say anything to them about there budget) ( MUST BE WORKING FOR U46 )
      You bet.

  9. Terry Gavin says:

    All of our taxes have gone up since 1991, to the City of Elgin, U-46, everybody has gotten more. The truth is the city’s tax rate doesn’t mean we’re paying the same taxes every year. In fact each & every year I’ve lived in this city for 20 years I’ve PAID more.

    So stop with the rate has stayed the same the fact is we’re all paying more to the city & U-46!

    • Bob says:

      Fact Not Fiction must be paying taxes based on his 1991 assessed valuation.

      Lucky bastard.

      • Fact Not Fiction says:

        Sorry councilman and blind followers.
        You have paid as a PERCENTAGE the same tax amount as 1991.
        Your house goes up 20% in value so your assessed valuation goes up 20%.If your home goes down 20% like Elgin YOUR REVENUE goes down 20% too. And remember as a realtor you know that taxes are assessed every 3 or 4 years so your taxes you pay now are based on what your house was worth in 2007-2008.

        I question anybodies motives that was part of the problem years ago. When the “good times rolled” you voted these downtown spending ideas,five year plans and contracts.These projects were set to roll in the future, WHEN YOU WERE IN OFFICE.

        Just for laughs I wonder what One votes house was worth in 1998?
        $65,000 somewhere there right Terry. Now $135,000. A profit?

  10. One Vote says:

    Amount of my property taxes paid to Elgin:
    Year Elgin City Elgin Pension Fund Cash Value
    1998 551.28 76.88
    1999 567.15 78.82 111,292
    2000 584.59 84.88 114,775
    2001 591.89 95.87 120,607
    2002 651.35 111.75 129,592
    2003 687.31 134.60 139,957
    2004 702.61 166.82 150,861
    2005 738.26 196.60 161,058
    2006 818.53 183.12 171,510
    2007 898.57 177.66 183,162
    2008 921.10 184.43 189,243
    2009 868.21 227.84 189,243
    2010 831.82 183.47 176,523

    The flat rate means nothing. We still pay more each year. And the Fair Cash Value is a cruel joke. My house is worth $135,000 right now, if I’m willing to leave it on the market for six months.

    • One Vote says:

      All that work putting in spaces and the program deleted them. Sorry!

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      Once again how much money to U46? How about there pension?
      Once again beating down $1000 for street maint, leave raking, sewers, water mains, lighting, supplies, autos, etc,etc,etc.
      Why I would say you want to pick your battle over nothing.
      You probably according to your “tax bill” paid u46 about $2500 or more,
      for the most and worst school system in the state. If it were not for Bartlett, South Elgin and Streamwood NONE of ELGINS schools would make the state wide grade. Not one of you, including our “councilman”
      cries about that do they?

  11. Chuck Keysor says:

    Hey, I talked to Anna Moeller after the budget session today, and she too insists that our taxes have not gone up in 19 years! I told her that my taxes had in fact gone up, and that only the rate had been fixed. Then she replied saying what else has stayed the same in the last 19 years?! What did you pay for milk in 1992???? And she is holding the fate of or taxes in her hands? Lord help us!

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      Why because she tells the truth?
      By seeing you guys at the Centre Saturday, I still cant believe that you think there is meat to cut. Maybe from the chiefs but not the UNION
      indians. Look at there pay change from 2009-2010 while the UNION agreed to 2 years without a raise, and you stomp them as bad? U46 Grad are we all?

  12. One Vote says:

    The divide between the public sector and the citizens continues to grow. They just see things differently. They have insulated themselves from market forces. In times of recession the only way they can reduce labor costs is to reduce headcount. The unions balk at salary cuts, benefit reductions and pension overhauls. All they have left is to fire people. The unions are so proud of themselves when they agree to a pay freeze for a year or two.
    In the real world the recession has redefined what jobs are worth, and it ain’t pretty. People are going back to work for half what they were making in 2008.
    But you won’t find any understanding on this council because they are/were public workers by profession:
    Kaptain - Water reclamation
    Gilliam - School district admin
    Dunne - Fire department
    Moeller - Village admin
    Powell - City admin
    You’ve got your five votes right there. And you know how Steffen is going to vote based on his union family and his ties with DNA.
    Prigge is the only guy left. He lives and dies by free market rules.
    The rest just don’t understand that increasing the cost of government has never improved the private sector economy. If Elgin wants to look more wealthy (household income) you don’t get there by adding $18 a month in trash fees and 1/2 percent in sales tax.
    But given the background of the city council, they will compare themselves with Springfield to justify themselves rather than make the needed cuts.

    • Terry Gavin says:

      You’re exactly right OV. You could also just call them “liberals” too. That would explain the fact that with the exception of Prigge & Dunne the rest will just raise our taxes.

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      Elgin will NEVER LOOK wealthy until you remove 16 people in a house, hire bi-ling teachers by the dozen, use the boat money as private WELFARE to keep your taxes down, instead of working on crime, ADDING police and FIREMEN, and working on what other towns think of you. Why does Bartlett, St.Charles etc
      have a good image? They dont complain about $135,000 homes cause there are not any. There houses are worth 200,000 to 500,000 if you can find any. They pay more in taxes then most of Elgins east side city blocks.
      BUT THEY PAY for everything.

      Towns around Elgin do not like Elgin because other then beutifull homes
      that are falling in disrepair, the people cry too much.
      If you want to be better you PAY the price. Bartletts taxes are high yes, but so are home prices, and low crime rates. Remove the bad, have home prices go up, pay more taxes, get better services, bad element moves to another town.

      • paul says:

        “Towns around Elgin do not like Elgin because other then beutifull homes that are falling in disrepair, the people cry too much”

        Maybe they don’t like Elgin for our atrocious spelling and punctuation reflective of our low quality education system???

        “pay more taxes, get better services, bad element moves to another town.”

        We need to raise taxes so as to run the poor people out of town!!!!

    • paul says:

      “Prigge is the only guy left. He lives and dies by free market rules”

      Please explain his yea vote on expending $3.5M of City of Elgin taxpayer assets for a low income housing project in city center called Artspace? Was he vying for the welfare artist vote over my vote?

  13. Chuck Keysor says:

    One Vote, I had thought that the references to Springfield by Stegall were odd. Stegall was making the point that Elgin chooses to have fewer firegighters, and use over-time, where a similarly sized city like Springfield has lots more fire fighters, but doesn’t use over-time.

    This comparison is interesting, but is quite skewed, because the pay for fire fighters in Springfield is lots lower. Check out this information, http://www.springfield.il.us/Public%20Records/2011%20List%20of%20Municipal%20Employees.pdf Compare it yourself to the Union payroll listed on the Elgin OCTAVE website.

    The Fire Chief in Springfield is paid $109,900 and in Elgin we pay $150,000 per year. And the regular fire fighters are paid far less than in Elgin. So, look at the facts, and then draw your own conclusions.


    • RS says:

      If they can’t use part-time people for whatever reason (Unions?), and have to rely on overtime, then they need to reduce the base salary.

      Both Elgin firefighters and police are making twice the national average. They need to get things under control at city hall or the management needs to be replaced.

      Mean annual wage for police in USA: $55,620

      Mean annual wage for firefighters in USA: $47,730

      Average take home pay for Elgin firefighters? $100,000

      Average take home pay for Elgin police? $100,000

      Guess which EPD officer pulled in nearly $68,000 in overtime last year? Elgin’s finest of course.


      Log in to the newsbank database on Gail Borden to read the glorious history of this police officer. I wouldn’t trust this guy to watch my locked car and he’s one of the top-compensated officers in the Elgin Police Department, making a grand total of $142,000 last year.

      • Fact Not Fiction says:

        RS please compare apples to apples.Compare hourly rates, not with there non basic pay.(OT) Dont you see why there is so much overtime. They NEED TO HIRE MORE WORKERS. I bet when you lay off 12 more workers this year that the OT cost will go up even MORE and you WILL get even less service in a downward spirl. Then I can hear again “my property taxes are up again”. THEY WILL BE when the golden goose boat, gives up against strong DesPlaines compitition,
        and leaves Elgin cause they dont make money. Then we will call you WAU-KEE-GEN, with $25,000 houses paying $7,000 in taxes.

        • Chuck Keysor says:

          You may be interested in comments Mike Bailey put in today’s Boca Jump. Chuck

          “But having been a manager, I also know that overtime is a way to give yourself a raise or, to give a favored employee a raise. The need to work overtime must be assessed and approved by a supervisor who then becomes responsible for justifying it to a superior. Court appearances by police are understandable. But can we really be sure that all $6 million in overtime was absolutely necessary? Is it possible to enact a budget that anticipates $8 million to $10 million in savings and revenues and realizes the additional $2 million to 4 million in better management of staff time to reduce overtime?”

      • Fact Not Fiction says:

        The average skilled worker at PW with 7 years in makes about $25.00 per hour. Starting pay averages about $18-$19.

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      The cost of living in Springfield is MUCH less thats why. In Elgin I buy a house for about average $100,000. Bartlett $200,000. Pickens,Georgia 30,000.
      Springfield $80,000.

      Gas station attendant in Pickens Georgia $8.00 hr.
      Chicago $12.00 per hour.

      2 acres in Pickens Georgia $3000
      2 acres in Chicago 2 million.
      Get it yet?

      • Anonymous says:

        Fact Not Fiction,,,,,,,, doesn’t it seem odd to you that one moment you cite the cost of housing as a logical basis for high pay in the City of Elgin, but then in another post you point out that an average Elgin Public Works department only gets paid $36,000 to $50,000 per year. You clearly and directly disconnected the high cost of living in Chicago-land from salaries. If the cost of housing in Elgin can justify the City Manager making more than a 4 star general, or only $700 less than our country’s Secretary of State, how can the public works employee only get paid $36,000 to $50,000 per year?

        Second point, if there is some type of connection between rates of pay and the local cost of living, what would explain huge annual pay raises that wildly out-pace the cost of living?

        Last year’s Consumer Price Index was 1.5%, but look at the pay for City upper management last year. You will find pay raises of 11$, 16%, 18%, 20% and even 27%. Well, you will reflexively defend this by saying they got a promotion, and had to do more work. Hmmmm, then why would the same people get pay raises the year before of 19%, 11% and 11.9%.

        And if you look at pay raises over the last 10 years versus the CPI, pay raises, with the exception of 2005 when some employees got no raises, average pay raises were usually double to triple the rate of inflation.

        These upper management folks just keep on their skyrocketing pay scales, and then get upset when you suggest that the taxpayers can not afford to pay these huge salaries. The pay scales for upper management should be seen as an usustainable bubble, that needs to be burst. They should come back in line with national averages, like the poor Public Works grunts.

        If a wealthy City employee doesn’t like it, let them try to find another gravy train to jump onto. They can stand in line with all the hundreds of other people who will be applying for the same job.

        • Fact Not Fiction says:

          This is the 1st thing Ive heard that was good.
          Remember its NOT the Indians but the CHIEFS.
          Ps The Union took no pay raises the last 3 years.( At least PW)

        • RS says:

          The management is just trying to keep up with the $160,000 firemen.

          • Terry Gavin says:

            True again RS plus not only are the Chiefs not the Indians the problem we’ve got WAY to many DAMN CHIEFS at city hall. Oh is that politicially incorrect to say Indians?

  14. Terry Gavin says:

    The other fact that came out at yesterdays “public meeting” that really irked me was that with the proposed new refuse tax of $18 a month per household put on our water bill along with the $13 we pay now on our property tax will remain adding up to a double tax of $31 a month for garbage.

    On property taxes many residents here in Hanover Twp., Elgin received a 20% over all tax increase this year over last. This fact in spite of an appeal I filed in May winning a small reduction in apprasial. It’s simply dishonest for anyone to say our property taxes here haven’t gone up over the last 20 year!

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      You know what Terry.
      When and where does it say on your water bill garbage?
      Water is for water and sewer. I guess that if I buy a car from the salesman and he says 14,000 but gives me a payment for 20,000 its ok.
      If it does not say GARBAGE it is for WATER.Terry if its NOT in writing then its not there.

      Garbage should be contracted in by council and like OTHER towns a bill from the waste company every 3 months.
      Terry, your leading the lemmings over the side……
      Your lucky that that township is part of Bartlett and South Elgin.
      At least your property value stayed way up compared to Elgin.

  15. Terry Gavin says:

    FNF one of the proposals discussed at the public meeting was to put a garbage refuse fee on to everybodies water bill at $18 per month.

    Surely your kidding that my property value or any of my neighbors property value stayed “way up” compared to Elgin Twp. The appraised value of my home as well as my neighbors is 20%-25% less then when I bought this home in 2004.

    • One Vote says:

      I think unicorns used to pay our garbage fee. It was magic.
      But the gift horse finally caught up with us.
      OF COURSE it is a new fee. We’ve always paid for trash pick-up. Now they pulled it out and put it on top so they can charge extra for it.
      We’ve always paid for snow removal, but they could itemize it and charge us by the inch.
      We’ve always subsidized The Centre. They could add a line to the water bill or the property taxes, but the charge itself would still exist.
      Terry’s right, hidden or itemized, we’ve been paying for our garbage.

  16. Chuck Keysor says:

    As to all this speculation about the garbage fees, in case you didn’t see this, Elgin OCTAVE posted this on YouTube, and it shows the City Manager explaining the garbage tax and where it came from. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-yWIZNzrzo Chuck

    • One Vote says:

      Nice clip. and it reminds me of the “careful analysis” of the 2008 TARP bailout. They chose $700 billion simply because it was a really big number. They had no clue how much they really needed.
      Just a couple of thoughts about Elgin’s trash pick-up:
      1) If Elgin is such a big customer, why are they not using their clout? They should get some bids. Waste Management doesn’t want to have idle equipment and layoffs. Stop acting like a bureaucracy and negotiate. Unlike the union contracts, the city does have other places to go for garbage.
      2) Kaptain and the greenies really need to look at the garbage pick-up. We have FIVE garbage collectors; wet, recyclable, large items, freon items and yard waste (but not leaf pick up.) And we still have the Sanford and Sons scavengers. Is all that diesel fuel burning really saving the planet?
      Again, the Octave video clearly shows that Stegall wants the money and he doesn’t care how he gets it, except that it must be outside the current revenue streams. And I don’t see the council pushing back at him. Where are our representatives?

      • Terry Gavin says:

        Sean does state that HE needs $6.4m for “his” budget! How about what we the taxpayers need? It’s not just his budget it’s the city’s/citizens budget. What Sean if we the people can’t afford your $6.4m tax increase?

        This proposal of separating the garbage “fee” from the property tax isn’t just double taxation it’s in addition to the other tax increases he & staff are proposing. If he get’s his way the local economy will suffer even more losses & in the end revenues to the city will further decrease.

        The only answer that will work to fix this budget crisis is to reduce the size & cost of government now. This means program cuts, not service cuts, as well as more white collar staff cuts at city hall. Then we can talk about a possible modest sales tax increase and/or a slight increase to garbage fee increases of no more then $5 a month.

        We’ve been on this path of growing city government since the 90’s & now they refuse to cut back enough to balance the budget without hitting us with huge tax increases!

        • RS says:

          The problem is that it’s the services that’s costing money, not the programs. Ten or twenty thousand for this or that program is nothing compared to the $160,000 they’re paying firemen.

          Add in their pension, health care and whatever other costs and just a few people will cost the city more than a million dollars a year.

          But if you don’t want to cut police and fire salaries then just quit complaining and brace for the tax increase.

          • Terry Gavin says:

            Sorry RS you’re wrong again just like the bet we made where I told you 5 months ago that the Senior Citizen Tax Rebate would be canceled for this year. The fact is that’s what the council is doing so that puts $1m back into this years budget, a surplus,and $1m next year programmed to go out in the 5 year plan & so on. That’s just one program I spoke to in my earlier post.

            We also are spending millions of dollars every year in the Parks & Rec. Dept. programs that includes salaries for high ranking Dept. Heads & assistants as well as facilities. So you see these aren’t just $10,000 or $20,000 programs they’re much larger targets.

            Yes overtime costs are to high but hiring new people is costlier unless done as part timers. We could also bring in a 1/2 a million dollars a year by taking the business license revenues from the Chamber & putting them into the general fund.

            So no I for one will not quit fighting higher taxes because the answers are there if you look for them.

          • paul says:

            On the plus side at least TG isn’t on the council now.

  17. b4real says:

    Solution to the problem 1.Elgin needs to go to a Strong Mayor form of government and away from the city mgr form, the city is getting bigger and our issues need full time accountable representation. If the Mayor is beholden to his constituents then maybe he will govern in the best interest of the city. In the current form the city mgr only has to not get fired by council. How many cities with over 100,000 people have a city manager form of government. The Mayor should be full time and have his on chief of staff that goes when he or she goes, if they are not doing the job. Question if Sean were the Mayor would he have been reelected.

  18. Terry Gavin says:

    “On the plus side at least TG isn’t on the council now.”

    Why’s that Paul is it because you oppose someone who stands up for what’s in the best interests of the tax payers as priority #1?

    Or might it be you work for the City’s Parks & Rec. Dept or maybe at the Chamber of Commerce?

    • One Vote says:

      I only wish Terry were still on the council. But we’d still need another vote or two to be represented.

      • Terry Gavin says:

        Thank you One Vote for your comment coming from someone as articulate as you I’m honored!

        When the council increases to 9 members in 2013 it will take 5 votes to win any issue. As it stands now we’ll need 4 new seats plus Councilman Prigge to reach that.

    • paul says:

      You forgot the 3rd option, TG. The one concerning nothing but spin and BS. Your recent babble about NOT building the Centre is about 10-15 years too late.
      As to the Senior Citizen Tax Rebate, that was an automatic budget cut when GV boat revenues dropped below a pre-established theshold. I doubt RS bet you on GV revenues but you could always find that post and prove me wrong - I doubt you will.
      As to bringing in $0.5M with the business license; no, it only brings in about $250K! AND the city is outsourcing business development to the Chamber - not quite like the city is giving it to them for nothing!
      A real shame Elgin Octave spent ALL their goodwill, time and effort fighting a $250K business license tax in the face of a massive multi-million dollar tax increase on Elgin residents.

      • Todd Martin says:

        I encourage Elginites to take a look at the latest budget documents proposed by the City staff. This is NOT a “massive multi-million dollar tax increase”. I quote the Daily Herald:

        “The typical resident is expected to pay $58.68 more in 2013, the first full year of the new fees, with the proposal council members approved Wednesday. That does not take into account savings predicted because of lower water rates — thanks to actual costs being $5 million less than those estimated for Airlite Water Treatment plant upgrades — or potential savings if residents vote to allow the city to bulk purchase all residents’ electricity.”

        The truth is that the City Council is poised to LOWER property taxes while adding new taxes and fees to replace the revenue. The City will shift from relying so much on taxing your house (which you can’t do much about) to taxes and fees that you have more control over, like a liquor sales tax.

        Unlike previous budgets, this one has had a lot of citizen input BEFORE the vote. This has allowed positive changes that reflect the needs & wants of the community.

        • Terry Gavin says:

          Sadly Todd you’re buying the sales job made by city staff & sold to most of the council the public as well as the media.

          There’s NO tax decrease in property taxes! Instead to quote the city manager they did a “flow through” with regards to the garbage fees removing them from the property tax bill & swapping them to our water bills. So in plain English the city shifted our garbage fees from our propery tax bill, i.e. the tax reduction, to our water bill a fee increase. No tax reduction at all but a cleaver “bait & switch” used in sales to make something look like something else.

          In the mean time they raised several other taxes/fees to cover about $6.4M in deficits plus set up a seperate fund for street reconstructin with an increased sales tax. A very clever way to say the fact that we’ll pay more as tax payers but get nothing new in services. But we’ll get a 1% reduction in our water rates, how nice.

          In addition to the “dog & pony” show that went on last night we NOW must PAY more for special interests like non-profits & the “arts”! Excuse me while I hurl but in this economy making the tax payers pay more for less & giving money to the Elgin Symphony makes NO sense at all! No matter how good the symphony is.

        • One Vote says:

          Stegall, Kaptain and the council can massage it any way they want. They can cut taxes and raise fees, cut fees and raise taxes or cut fees and taxes and borrow money to operate. It makes no difference to me because they have the wrong mindset to begin with.
          Government needs to SHRINK. They aren’t doing that. They can’t even shrink to the lower revenue. They want more from my pocket.
          I want to see them reduce their size and scope so they can LOWER my taxes.
          This bunch has the liberal bent that big government is a good thing. It isn’t. And it will never create prosperity; only an entitlement mentality.
          Stegall’s comment that he needs $6 million and doesn’t care where it comes from is the poster child for bureaucracy.

          • Terry Gavin says:

            AMEN to that OV!

          • paul says:

            ” they have the wrong mindset to begin with.”

            EXACTLY right. Which is why I keep harping about the Artspace scam. It crystalizes and epitomizes their “wrong mindset”. In the face of ALREADY known multi-million dollar deficits, on a 7-0 vote they approved a $3.5M expenditure of taxpayer assets to bring low income housing to downtown Elgin.
            The looming deficit was NOT of ANY concern. WHY? because on a 7-0 vote they KNEW they could ALWAYS get more money from the taxpayer. And they are right.
            Elgin voters are getting exactly what they deserve.

        • paul says:

          When is a “massive multi-million dollar tax increase” not a a “massive multi-million dollar tax increase”???
          Answer: when Todd martin says so on the internet.

          How does Elgin close a $13M budget deficit? Answer: by lowering taxes, says Todd Martin. OR in liberal speak by re-defining taxes and calling them fees.

          Or as Mayor Kaptain says, if we just reduce our use of electricity, gas, # of vehicles owned, drink less alcohol, shop less in Elgin, Elgin taxpayers will actually reduce their taxes/fees. (Good thing we won’t actually do that or the City wouldn’t be able to close that $13M deficit!!!) Yes, we can all be green if only the government forces us to reduce our standard of living. Thanks, Dave.

          • Terry Gavin says:

            Good post Paul!

          • Todd Martin says:

            While it is hard to find on the City’s crappy website, the latest budget has changed quite a bit for the better from what is currently posted on their main website.

            Posted on: December 1, 2011
            City proposes revised 2012 budget
            Based on input gathered through public meetings, open forums and online media, the city of Elgin has revised its proposed budget. Over the course of two special city council meetings and a “Live Chat” with Mayor Kaptain, the city of Elgin outlined its new budget proposal which:

            • Provides property tax relief;

            • Shifts tax burden away from Elgin residents;

            • Creates a dedicated fund for street improvements;

            • Creates a competitive grant program for non-profits using Riverboat funds and;

            • Resolves the city’s structural deficit

            What does this mean for a typical resident? A 73% reduction in taxes and fees over the original budget proposal.

            Fixing the city’s structural deficit

            Elgin’s revised proposed 2012 budget addresses the city’s structural deficit by implementing expenditure reductions, a refuse collection and leaf pickup fee and an alcoholic beverage tax.

            Expenditure Reductions
            Elgin is proposing $2.5 million in spending cuts accomplished through:

            • Further workforce reductions totaling $1.7 million (the third such reduction in force since 2008);

            • Eliminating $677,000 in subsidies to the Recreation Fund and;

            • Reducing Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce funding by $125,000.

            Refuse Collection and Leaf Pick-up fee
            The city’s curbside garbage and recycling program costs approximately $4.7 million per year. To cover the costs of this program, a refuse collection fee of about $13.30 (a bit more for single family homes and a bit less for multi-family) is being recommended. This amount would completely cover the city’s refuse costs, no more, no less. As a way to continue to deliver on-street leaf collection services, a $2.00 per month, per household fee is being recommended for households within leaf rake out areas.

            Alcoholic Liquor Tax
            Elgin’s revised budget includes a 3% tax on alcoholic beverages sold within corporate limits. This tax is expected to generate $500,000 for 2012 and $1,000,000 ongoing. In a study of 30 surrounding communities, alcoholic beverage taxes are used by 64%, including St. Charles, Evanston and Arlington Heights. Included with this tax is a recommendation to reduce liquor license fees by 56% to alleviate the financial burden this places on Elgin businesses.

            Reducing property taxes

            Elgin’s revised proposed budget sets forth a plan that provides $1 million in property tax relief for 2012. It also reduces by 25% the city’s overall reliance on property tax by 2016. This strategy offers a more evenly distributed tax burden over the city’s original budget proposal by instituting an electricity and natural gas tax.

            Utility Taxes
            Combined these two taxes are expected to generate $3 million per year. Utility taxes are paid by all properties, even those exempt from property tax such as other governmental units. Residents can lower their tax burden by reducing gas and electricity use.

            Creating a dedicated street improvement fund

            The city is committed to maintaining and fixing its streets. However, Elgin’s primary street improvement funding source, the Grand Victoria Riverboat is becoming a less reliable revenue generator. To address this imbalance, the city’s proposed budget includes a half-cent increase in sales tax, taking it from .75% to 1.25%. Sales tax provides a way to diversify revenue streams without placing the burden solely on Elgin residents, as sales tax is paid by non-residents shopping in Elgin.

            This increase will provide approximately $1.7 million per year dedicated to street improvements. A dedicated and reliable revenue stream provides a greater ability to plan street improvements and generate a street improvement schedule.

            Creating a competitive and open process for non-profit funding

            Included in the city’s revised budget is the creation of a city administered grant program dedicated to funding social service/non-profit agencies. Funded at $250,000, this program would allow agencies that have historically not been funded by the city the chance to receive city funds. In addition, $50,000 in funding for cultural arts groups is being recommended. Funding the arts and non-profit agencies at $300,000 is $13,000 more than outside agencies received in 2011. Funding for these agencies is taken from Riverboat proceeds.

          • paul says:

            “A 73% reduction in taxes and fees”

            Put a dress and lipstick on your $9.3M tax/fee INCREASE and actually spin this pig as a 73% reduction!!
            DO the Stegall math on 73% reduction to get to $9.3M! The original tax/fee increase was $35M???

            Todd, I’ve got some ocean front property in downtown Elgin for you to buy. Gullible’s travels.

      • Terry Gavin says:

        You Paul are the one full of babble! Though you’re kind of right about ElginOctave’s waste of goodwill over the $500,000 business license revenue stream over the multi-million dollar increase in our taxes.

        Check the final #’s for 2011 & you’ll quickly see the business license fees brought in nearly 1/2 a $M in revenue.

        Oh & btw the Rec. Centre you seem to think is a 15 year old fight then explain to us tax payers why it’s costing us $750,000 a year in red ink to run the loser Gilliam Rec Centre? You are absurd in your arguments. I guess just because a bad decision was made 12 years ago we should simply forget it?

        Get real Paul. Oh & btw do you work for the city?

        • paul says:

          “because a bad decision was made 12 years ago we should simply forget it?”

          Unless you’ve figured out how to unbuild it and get our money back. But that is “absurd”.
          The only relevant issue is what to do NOW. Board it up? Sell it off for pennies on the dollar? Stop spending $3.5M to bring low-income housing to city center? Or D, impose multi-million dollar raise in taxes.

          Speaking of absurd, have you located that post where RS bet you on the Senior Citizens Tax Rebate? I didn’t think so!

  19. paul says:

    “we’d still need another vote or two to be represented.”

    or three, maybe four!

    Where were your votes on July’s 7-0 approval to expend $3.5M of Elgin’s taxpayers monies to bring low-income housing to city center, in the face of already known looming deficits??? 7 for, 0 against.
    Kaptain voted for it because it will employ $75 an hour union workers.
    Steffen voted for it because it’s a ‘no-brainer’ that low income housing generates positive tax revenue. Gilliam voted for it so as Elgin wouldn’t have yet another empty building in city center. Moeller voted for it because it’s a ‘perfect use of TIF money’. Why’d your man vote for it? That 7-0 vote was a down payment on raising your taxes. Sometimes, rarely, you get what you deserve. Elgin taxpayers are about to get what they deserve.

  20. Terry Gavin says:

    Todd you’re buying into the propaganda of the city staff. For instance.

    “Reducing property taxes
    Elgin’s revised proposed budget sets forth a plan that provides $1 million in property tax relief for 2012.”

    * Truth is that our property taxes are NOT being reduced at all. What they did was take the garbage removal fee off the property tax bill & shift it on to our water bill! As Stegall called it a “flow through” in fact it’s a tax swap, no reduction in our taxes.

    Utility Taxes
    Combined these two taxes are expected to generate $3 million per year. Utility taxes are paid by all properties, even those exempt from property tax such as other governmental units.

    Truth is. The utility taxes of $3M a year will largely fall on business’ who will simply “flow through” & be passed on to their customers. Business’ don’t pay increased taxes the people pay higher prices for everything from food,alcohol & all products sold in retail will be increased. Not to mention the increase in sales taxes!

    All in all Todd yes this budget proposal is better then the last one but seriously it’s a BAD deal for us the people. What we needed is a larger reduction in the spending & instead we’re going to SPEND MORE on non-profits & the arts. Plus the cuts to parks & recreation are quite small. A very sad day for the people of Elgin if this budget is passed. Hopefully Prigge will stand up & vote NO, as I’d do if I were still there.

    • Todd Martin says:

      I’ll make a few points:
      1) Property taxes (City portion) will decline 25% over the next 5 years according to this plan.
      2) It makes a difference where taxes and fees are applied. A refuse fee allows YOU choices on how to handle your household refuse. You can choose an alternative. You have control over how much electricity you use and can invest in efficiency. On the other hand, once you buy your home, you are stuck with whatever property tax is levied. Shifting away from property taxes allows people who live outside Elgin contribute.
      2) At the public meetings, it was made loud and clear that the public wants the city to support the Arts. The City Council listened and made Art funding a priority. That is democracy in action. Even so, the Art and Culture spending is only 0.3% of the budget AND is derived from Riverboat revenue.
      3) $58 a year per resident is not “Massive”. Next year’s electricity aggregation referendum is projected to save Elgin residents 20% a year on electricity. Unless you spend less than $25 a month on electricity, these savings will more than offset the taxes.

  21. Terry Gavin says:

    1) The 5 year plan is like a road map, at anytime the council can deviate from it as it chooses especially at budget time. Trust me I know I was there for 4 years & witnessed how it works in reality. Don’t hold your breathe Todd for a 25% reduction in your property taxes!

    2) Sure it makes a difference where taxes & fees are applied but in the end they all mean our hard earned dollars will be taken under law to pay for a bigger government. A person can only control so much of what they use for energy unless you wish to sit in a cold dark home in the middle of winter. And what do you do with your garbage take it down to the landfill yourself?

    3) The so called “public” you mention came to ONE meeting & demanded that we tax payers fund their “arts” programs. There were numerous meetings where the “givers” tax payers said to NOT raise our taxes. Plus the mayor’s own Task Force said to NOT raise taxes in this economy.

    4) The figure of $58 a year per household is based on a $155,000 home how about those of us who own a bigger home it will cost more. Plus business’ will pay MUCH more to keep their doors open or would you suggest they close down to save energy? Those higher taxes on business’ will be passed on to us the consumer. Your support for this budget Todd simply means you support more government spending OUR money. We’re not a democracy we’re a representative republic, in a pure democracy it’s mob rule. Maybe we should have a referendum to the public about raising all of these taxes. Bet it would lose!

  22. Tom Sandor says:

    Mr. Gavin-The Budget Task Force recommended that the council consider raising taxes only as a last resort after consideration of all decreases in expenditures. It did not recommend no increase in taxes in this economy as you stated.

    The most current budget proposal is far inferior to the original proposal. The alleged “swap” of property taxes for additional fees and sales/sin tax increases is actually far more detrimental than an increase in property taxes. There is a reason that the Internal Revenue Code and the Illinois Tax law contains provisions for the the deduction of property taxes. As an example, if the city were to increase property taxes by $200 in 2012, rather than a separate non-deductible garbage collection fee a taxpayer (using a very conservative effective tax rate of 15%) would receive a $30 income tax reduction for a net property tax increase of $170. Under the current swap proposal and alleged “property tax relief” the net tax affect would be $230. The $200 in increased fees and $30 in lost tax deductions. The creation of a separate non-deductible garbage fee which brings the city approx $4million annually can cost Elgin taxpayers an additional $600,000 in income taxes.

    As much as property taxes are considered heinous by many, they are far more equitable that the creation of fees (garbage and leaf pickup) and taxes such as the liquor, utility and sales tax. It is very easy to track your property taxes and gauge that against the services being received. The utility, sales and liquor taxes are hidden on bills and receipts and are difficult for the taxpayer to track.

  23. Terry Gavin says:

    Tom I agree with your most of your statement about the tax treatment of the “swap” of property taxes for fees. But as for the Budget Task Force some members did state that taxes shouldn’t be raised in this economy, I was there as you were & heard that said. Some other members did say to only raise taxes as a last resort but the final votes made by the task force DIDN’T recommend any tax increases.

  24. Tom Sandor says:

    Terry, the motion that was passed included the statement of tax increases only as a last resort .I know since I added the phrase to the reccomendation that was adopted. We did not recommend any specific tax increase to the council in that it was felt that we had not been given a reasonable amount of time or information to make any specific recommendation but realized that tax increases were a tool for the coucil in the budget discussions.As a member of the Task Force I wish that both the city administration and individuals who are interpreting the recommendations for their own agenda would nderstand that this Task Force was dysfunctional, poorly informed, and lacked coherent leadership. The members , many of whom had little if any knowledge of how the city functions and the complexity of city finances, worked diligently under an unrealistic timeframe with fragmented information provided by a seemingly reluctant staff.

    • Terry Gavin says:

      Agreed with everything you said Tom about the Task Force. What I don’t understand is that when I was turned down by Mayor Kaptain reasons given to me were #1 we needed “diversity” whatever that means, & #2 I was closed minded about raising taxes! Instead you got what you got as a Task Force with a chairman who was interested in raising our taxes…

    • paul says:

      I hate to be cynical (realistic!), Tom, but what were you expecting??? ” Task Force was dysfunctional, poorly informed, and lacked coherent leadership”. I’m pretty sure I posted here before or during that the purpose of the Task Force was to be the front and the excuse to raise taxes. “democracy in action” without a vote on issues or members! The Task Force served their purpose perfectly.

      • Terry Gavin says:

        Paul you’re 100% right about the purpose of the Task Force. And when the Task Force didn’t go along with the plan to raise taxes/fees the mayor & council with staff assistance moved in & finished the job.

        At least Prigge is voting NO on this bad budget.

  25. One Vote says:

    Kaptain was at the Chamber giving his State speech.
    I didn’t hear anything like, “We need to cut heads, salaries and programs and live within our means, just like the people have been doing for years now.”
    He’s still looking for revenue. I have given up hope that our politicians will ever understand. A recession, coupled with the loss of GV revenue didn’t get the point across. I feel like I’m living in Greece.

  26. Terry Gavin says:

    This last Wednesday the city council had a “Truth in Taxation” hearing. I addressed this with my own “Truth about Taxation” comments. Truth #1) No nation, state or government in the history of man has created prosperty by increasing taxes on it’s people or spending more then it takes in. Truth #2) The current proposed city budget doesn’t reduce our property taxes it simply shifts the garbage fee to our water bill. Truth #3) The new utility taxes being levied will hit business’ the hardest because it’s a “usage” tax. As most people know business’ will simply pass those costs on to their customers, not hire workers or close their doors. Truth #4) The city has received more tax revenues from property taxes 18 of the last 20 years from those of us who are still living in our homes. Many of us who live in Elgin Cook County paid 12%-15% more to the city this year then last year.

    Though 5 of the current 7 members of today’s council are “new” members elected since 2007 & didn’t cause all of the spending that caused today’s deficits they are charged with fixing the problem without further damaging the local economy. Raising everybodies taxes by million’s of $’s will damage our local economy. Those of us working in the private sector or retired CANNOT afford HIGHER TAXES & most small business’ can’t either!

    • paul says:

      “city council had a “Truth in Taxation” hearing.”

      Was that comedy routine?

      Here is “Truth In Taxation” of the proposed city budget: The City of Elgin is raising taxes/fees on the poor and middle class, and lowering taxes/fees for the wealthy. The PRIME beneficiary of property tax reduction will obviously be the wealthy large property owners. The poor will pay essentially the same garbage fee as the wealthy. The poor use proportionately more gas and electric per ratio of income. And the poor spend proportionately more of their income in sales tax.
      Where are the ‘Occupy Elgin’ morons when you need them? Hang that FACT tag on the city council of harming the poor/middle-class working stiffs for the benefit of the wealthy if you want them to change their tune!!!

    • paul says:

      “Those of us working in the private sector or retired CANNOT afford HIGHER TAXES & most small business’ can’t either!”

      Sure you can. Turn off your Christmas lights. Kaptain has repeatedly told you that by raising utility and sales taxes he is allowing you to control your tax payments. Turn off your heat and lights and stop shopping in Elgin. If you won’t ‘be green’ and reduce your standard of living voluntarily, Dave Kaptain truly believes his mandate as a duly elected official liberal is too FORCE you to reduce your standard of living. After all, isn’t that the function of government; to impose their personal social agendas upon us ignorant unwashed masses! ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose!’

      • JP says:

        One of the things that I question about this shift away from property taxes [which they say we have no control over] to utility taxes is what will happen if people scale back their utility use? The city would collect less revenue from that utility tax and they would need to go elsewhere to make up the difference or juice that tax rate. How is that any different than what we’re currently experiencing with our property taxes? Home values fall, assessed values fall, tax rate rises to maintain the required level of tax revenue.

        • paul says:

          “what will happen if people scale back their utility use?”

          The wealthy and welfare recipients aren’t concerned. The public pensioneers have plenty of money. And the paradigm shift to lower standard of living from socialist policies for the working poor is still heavily anchored in the denial phase. What will you give up first; your 1/4 pounder with cheese or your warm house?
          Neither! You’re right, that’s what the banks make credit cards for. And the 99% tell us it’s all the banks fault anyway. It ain’t got mothin to do with trillion dollar deficits or raising taxes/fees on us 1% poor working stiffs.

  27. Todd Martin says:

    JP, that’s a great question. Demand for any product is affected by its price. Lower price = more sales and vice versa.

    If your product is free, no dollars are spent. Selling at a penny, you sell lot’s but earn very little money because there is not an infinite number of people who want your product.

    If your product sells for a very high price, you sell very few and total dollars earned are limited by the few sales.

    As a retailer, you want to sell for just the right price to bring in the most revenue. A supply-demand curve helps determine this “best price”.

    Some product sales are more sensitive to price adjustments than others. Gasoline sales, for example, is slow to adjust to price swings because people cannot easily change their commute distance or the car they drive. It takes a big price swing to change their behavior much. Economists call this price sensitivity “elasticity”.

    If the price of electricity goes up 3%, consumers are unlikely to reduce usage by exactly 3%. The truth is, the price of electricity has a lot more to do with other things than the tax rate. Housing values depend on more than just the tax rate too. Same thing for liquor prices.

    The whole idea of the new budget is to diversify the tax base so that the city can more easily adapt to any big change to one revenue source.

    A few on this blog are hysterical about “shutting off the lights” and “living in the cold” over these changes. In my opinion, this is fear-mongering by persons who only care about their political philosophy and ignore any facts that run counter to this philosophy.

    I encourage anyone who is interested in knowing more about our future electricity bills to come to tonight’s sustainability commission meeting. One of the topics on the agenda is electricity aggregation. The meeting is from 6-8pm at Centre (West conference room).

    • paul says:

      Gee, Todd. I’m still waiting for your explanation of how raising $10 million in taxes/fees actually lowers taxes/fees, as you claimed.
      Your very last post here, Todd, proclaimed our electric bills will actually be lower with the new utility tax under the most recent city proposed budget!!!! Incredible, really. Everyone will be paying lower taxes/fees and electric bills AND the City of ELgin will have $10 million in more revenue. MAGIC.
      I won’t call you a flat out liar because that might be deemed uncivil. But I can’t think of any other word for it.
      Who are you calling “hysterical” and “fear mongering”? Are you a coward to name names? Why did you refuse to respond to my FACTS concerning your delusions. Or rather civilly addressing my posts your only response is to respond to others and call me “hysterical”, literally without explanation.

  28. Terry Gavin says:

    Truth about Taxation #5) The fact that the City Council has silently removed the Senior Property Tax Rebate from the 2011 budget outlays is essentialy a additional TAX increase of $1M on all seniors who own their own homes in Elgin.

    • Clarence Hayward says:


      I would disagree with you. It is not a tax increase as I consider the rebate was a gifting to the seniors. Now there is no longer any gift for them.

      • One Vote says:

        BINGO! The crux of the debate on taxation. Whose money is it? If the city decides to bring back the vehicle sticker, is that a new tax? Or just an end to the benevolence of the city fathers?
        Here’s a quote from a Senate hearing this year on charitable deductions: “Some economists and other scholars contend that this is, in effect, a tax expenditure because tax revenues are reduced by the benefit granted. In other words, because the government could have denied the charitable deduction there is a government expenditure in its granting the deduction and forgoing the revenue. By that reasoning the personal income we think is ours is really the government’s because of its choice not to take it away by taxation. That is surely an attitude not shared by most Americans.” - Oaks, October 18, 2011

      • Terry Gavin says:

        No Clarence with all due respect a “rebate” of property taxes is NOT a “GIFT”. The classic definition in Webster’s dictionary of rebate is “deduction by way of discount”. The Senior Property Tax Rebate program is less then what seniors pay each year in property taxes, thus a reduction in their property taxes! Truly a tax cut/deduction for “seniors”.

        Also the elimination of vehicle stickers is not a “gift” it’s a tax reduction for ALL residents who own vehicles in Elgin but pay all kinds of other taxes to the city! It’s NOT a gift it came from riverboat revenues which BELONGS to all the citizens of Elgin, not staff, not the city council but the tax payers of Elgin pure & simple!

        So NO it’s not a “gift” it’s purely returning monies to the TAX PAYERS who always wind up paying the bill for BLOTTED government!

  29. Terry Gavin says:

    In plain English this is an additional tax increase to elderly citizens of $250 this year & next year & so on. So pontificate all you wish about “diversification” of tax revenues the facts are we the tax payers are paying millions of dollars more for the growth of Elgin government without ANY increase in services. This is NOT about “political” philosophy it’s about TRUTH & pain caused by bigger government on people who can’t afford it.

    Only someone so arrogant to suggest this is a good deal for the taxpayers could make such elitist statements! With so many people hurting in our community today only a “liberal” could argue for more of this nonsense. Please get real…

  30. One Vote says:

    I’ve been taught that you water the things you want to grow. That’s what entitlements are all about. You want Sears and CME to stay here, you pony up some tax breaks (a fools game, but politicians started it and now they have to pay). If you want senior to stay in Elgin, you write them checks. If you want Latinos to vote for you, you promise amnesty. If you want green votes, you create bike paths.
    Elgin is playing this game and not getting much return on their investment. We’ve dumped tons of cash into downtown and tried all sorts of programs (remember the New Century quasi-governmental Partnership?) but there are still more vacant storefronts than occupied businesses.
    I can’t say I have much confidence left in government.

    • Terry Gavin says:

      Amen to that OV. The reason the State of IL. has to give these “special” incentives to “certain” big companies to keep them here is that they’ve created a disaster in our state economy with more taxes & more spending. Just since the begining of this year IL. has lost upwards of 100,000 jobs to neighboring states who’ve cut taxes. You don’t have to be an intellectual to figure it out but you do have to be a useful idiot to continue to support this nonsense.

      Sounds an awful lot like what Elgin is doing with over $5M in new taxes for next year mostly on business’ but they’ll turn right around & give “incentives” to a new business to come here with 30-40 jobs. While companies already here “go out of business” The government giveth with one hand & taketh away with the other.

      This is pure lunacy yet people will keep electing this politicians that promise to give them stuff from other people’s money!