Quick Hits – November 30, 2021

Quick Hits – November 30, 2021

The Kane County Board relents on raising taxes!

It would seem that the cooler – or at least the more terrified – County Board heads prevailed such that there won’t be a property tax hike this budgetary round. But before you start patting that herd of cats on the back, please remember they’ve already doubled the gas tax at a time when pump prices are approaching all-time highs.

Not to mention those kinds of regressive taxes hit the least of our brothers and sisters the hardest.

Instead of the proposed tax hike, they’ll cover most of the $16 million COVID borne deficit with federal COVID relief funds which certainly makes some short-term sense.

The question remains as to whether Chairman Pierog will relent in her efforts to keep the bulk of that $103 million for herself and the county as she continues to let all the local social service and mental health agencies twist in the wind.

Ain’t it amazing how the Democrats purport to be the party of the people right up until they get a financial windfall.


Apparently they’re allergic to the word…

As the budget talks dragged on for another month, the County Board’s record for failing to mention the word “cuts” at least one time still stands. Even our staunchest Republican board members would rather point to the five-year-old study claiming the County is running as lean as possible.

Much like the great Sherman Potter might say, my response to that abjectly absurd contention would be “horse hockey!”

You see, there’s something municipalities and counties don’t want you to know, and that something is, with rare exception, government consultants will always endeavor to tell public officials exactly what they want to hear. That’s because if they told them what they need to hear it’d their last Kane County gig.

And what would the Chairman and Board want to hear? That they’ve already done a bang-up job, of course! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sayin’ they can cut their way out of this problem, I am saying that raising fees and taxes should always be the last resort.


25 grand a year plus benefits?

Speaking of cuts, can anyone tell me why Kane County Board members get 25k a year plus a benefits package the proletariat can only dream about? And that’s particularly vexing when our local alderpeople generally get a measly four grand for doing twice the work.

Even Elgin Aldermen receive a mere benefit-less $12,000 for a far more difficult job and time-consuming job.

To be fair, some board members take the job very seriously and they work their butts off on behalf of their constituent, but the other 90 percent of ‘em barely manage to show up to the main meetings.

So, how about this! Wouldn’t the Kane County Board be setting the perfect fiscal example by voting to reduce their salaries to 10 grand a year with no perks. Think about it! That single move would save the county well over a half-a-million dollars a year.

I suppose I can dream, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath for too long on that one.


There will be some stiff competition

When I wrote “or at least the more terrified” in the opening passage, I was referring to the fact that, with the entire County Board up for reelection in 2022, it would be a rather inauspicious time to raise taxes.

But regardless of their sudden plague era no-tax-increase sanity, I can unequivocally say that a slew of those same board members will soon be facing some stiff electoral competition. And the opposition will be well-vetted, well-financed, and well-coached.

For preview purposes, the mailer going out on behalf of board member Vern Teppe’s opponent will prominently feature his fascinating quote, “Why are we so afraid to raise taxes?” That’s when he’ll shortly discover why his compatriots correctly fear any cavalier attempt to further pick our pockets.

I promise to keep you posted on this certainty.


Yes! We need to raise salaries

Even I’ve been saying it for years. Kane County hires and trains new employees only to lose them to better-paying nearby counties the second they get their feet on solid professional ground. And it was in that very vein that the County recently bitched to the local press about not be able to hire people during what we’re calling “The Great Resignation.”

First, the problem has existed and been overlooked for at least a kicking-the-can-down-the-road decade. It’s just that it finally exploded during this perfect pandemic storms.

But second, the current issue primarily involves County department’s and elected official’s inability to hire minimum-ish wage workers. As one department chief aptly noted, it’s impossible to hire folks for $12 to $13 an hour when Chipotle’s paying them $15.

So, if the Health Department wants to be able to hire nurses, if Animal Control wants to attract part-time kennel assistants, and if the County Clerk needs bodies to man the information lines at election time, the County will have to start being competitive.

But we’re certainly not talking about a mountain of money here.

It may not be easy to give our public defenders that well-deserved $10,000 a year pay raise, but providing part-time, or even full-time low wage workers with $2, $3, or even $5 more an hour ain’t gonna break the bank. Despite their current red ink, the County could still pull it off without having to raise taxes.

The larger competitive pay issue still looms, but let’s take it one step at a time.


A singular voice of sanity!

As you might imagine, our persistently low-paying social service agencies are facing the very same conundrum the County’s experiencing. But at a time when all our local elected officials provide nothing but platitudes and bluster, Marklund CEO Gil Fonger hit the fuckin’ nail on the fuckin’ head.

Oh! For reference purposes, Marklund is a top-of-the-line social service agency that provides educational and residential services for our most profoundly disabled brothers and sisters. Put more simply, if there really is a “heaven,” Marklund employees will be ushered in via the express lane.

So, here’s what Fonger told a local newspaper about the difficulties involved with finding new hires:

“We think it’s the new normal. We think we’re going to have to figure out how to do our work by using technology and being more efficient with the personnel we already have. We don’t think this is a passing fad. This is the new normal.”

My god man! You realize that engaging in that kind of basic common sense in these highly partisan times could get you, canceled, censored, arrested or worse! If any politician managed to come up with that kind of clarity I think the electorate would faint dead away – myself included!

Are you listening Chairman Pierog?

Gil! Just like Don Corleone, I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse! If you have any inclination to run for County Chairman I will plan, manage, and execute your campaign at no charge. And some folks say I’ve done pretty well in that regard!.

Just think of the good you could do, not only for the people of Kane County, but for all the folks your fine agency serves. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, it’s not too terribly difficult to find me.





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