BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org September 30, 2014 6:48PM
Wilhelmi Wilhelmi Updated: October 1, 2014 2:16AM Budget battles have begun in Will County with Republicans and Democrats differing on how to fund capital improvement projects during a finance committee meeting Tuesday. In his recent budget address, County Executive Larry Walsh, a Democrat, proposed increasing the property tax levy by 1.5 percent, the rate of inflation, which with new property would generate $2.9 million annually, $2.4 million of which would be earmarked for capital projects such as remodeling the sheriff’s office, building a new courthouse and improving the health department. The county’s total proposed budget is $466 million. Board member Margo McDermed, R-Frankfort, said it was “completely inappropriate” to raise taxes when the county is “sitting on a pile of money.” “We have money all over the place that we could use,” said board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen. “It is wrong to raise taxes” in this climate of rising health care costs — “even a little bit is too much,” he said. Both were referring to significant fund balances in the RTA and motor fuel tax funds. The amounts of those balances were not specified during the meeting. Walsh proposed a gradual spending down of those funds on projects outlined in his five-year road and capital plan. Historically, the county has spent $27 million annually on roads, which he proposed increasing to $32 million. Finance committee chairman Steve Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, said it will be “that much more difficult to start projects” if the county doesn’t create a new revenue stream. “We can’t look at this in a one-year vacuum,” he said. A state law enacted earlier this year allows the Will County Board to adopt a “judicial facilities fee” of up to $30 on all cases that require a court appearance, with the money to be spent exclusively on construction of a new courthouse. But that new fee would raise about $1.5 million to $2 million per year, and a new courthouse is expected to cost between $140 million and $200 million. A new revenue stream could be created through a future referendum for building bonds funded by a sales tax or property tax hike, Wilhelmi said. The county’s portion of the sales tax now is 0.25 percent. Wilhelmi said he will tweak the revenue projections for the proposed budget and list the fund balances for the Oct. 7 committee meeting. Discussions also will focus on the county’s proposed expenses. Board member Mike Fricilione, R-Homer Glen, suggested that there are cuts to be made. “There may be no need for a tax increase,” he said. “We started this budget on the basis that the board wants to do these capital projects,” said Nick Palmer, Walsh’s chief of staff. “Now you have to decide if you want to fund them.”
As a member of the Will County Board, I am very troubled with the September 30th date for discussing the Courthouse. I have stated since the beginning of the discussions “ I want to see a comparison in costs to building on Green Space as opposed to buying old run down contaminated buildings.
Furthermore, it seems calling a meeting the same day as the Will County Board Republican Caucus Fundraiser is an effort to silence me and any other Republicans from voicing their opinion. What I see thus far is economically problematic to the point of not being in the best interest of the people of Will County.
If we continue to purchase old buildings and rehab them in the downtown Joliet area – it will appear that we will have no other option but to stay. I don’t think so!
I have been told over and over we will get a comparison of costs – where is that? I don’t think it is good to purchase old rundown property for $750, 000 and pau about $3,000,000 to make it usable. Building new is cheaper, done the way we want it, and with plenty of parking in my opinion.
We should all be thinking of what is in the best interest of Will County. Sometimes this involves looking at new ideas, thinking out of the box, and being transparent – inclusive not exclusive – as to what actually is the goal. Speaking for myself, I will not stop voicing my opinion, especially when an issue is a detriment to the County I swore to protect. I would like to see Will County be in a new green space area ( vacant land). Please let me know what that would cost.
Steve Balich, Will County Board Dist. 7
Will County Board Member
Closed Door Policy
By Pat Hughes
I’m rarely surprised when politicians “play politics.” It’s the nature of the beast—the less than seemly part of our democracy. But when Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan does it—behind closed doors, with select accomplices who are under imminent threat of reprisal—it gives playing politics, and the politicians who play, a bad name.
Recently, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that private meetings are being held among top Democrats at Madigan’s request to consider legislation that would change education funding in a manner that substantially and negatively impacts many suburban school districts.
The bill, SB 16, would strip suburban school districts of most of their state support and channel that money to Chicago and rural schools. This is a drastic change in how the state funds schools. The suburban legislators, both Republican and Democrat, whose districts will be impacted should be part of that conversation. The fact that they are not is a diminishment of your representation.
Perhaps if those legislators were involved, they could propose a solution to our state’s education funding issues that goes beyond tweaking formulas and mollifying various political powers in different regions of the state. Perhaps those legislators would suggest a real solution - one that empowers parents to make decisions about their child’s education. Decisions that include which school and method of learning is best suited to their child, as well as how the money allocated for their child’s education is spent.
Sadly, our leaders in Springfield reject the notion that parents should decide what’s best for their child, just as they reject the notion that your elected representatives should have a say in what’s best for the district they represent. I just can’t help but think that these two views are related.
If we learned anything from the pension debates of 2013 and 2014, it is that any major bill introduced on the floor will be one devised by the people who created the problem. We will be told that this bill is our only hope. And, we will be told to fall in line with the legislation, because we have to do something.
I agree, we do have to do something. Too much depends on the future of education in Illinois not to do something. But the bills for real education reform, introduced by those who have been locked out of the this debate, are buried in Rules Committee by the very people who would have us believe SB 16 is our only hope.
Join our policy revolution. Click here to tell your legislator to vote ‘No’ on SB 16 and to make you part of the conversation. Then, tell everyone you know how this legislation will affect the schools in your community – not to mention your child’s future. Embrace and promote a solution that would fund schools, empower parents, and diminish the influence of bureaucrats over your child’s education. Point out to your circle of influence how the ruling class operates—how they mandate secrecy and ultimately absolute control. Repeat. Time and again. Never stopping until the closed-door policy that surrounds impactful legislation like SB 16 is a thing of the past.
By BRIAN STANLEY – email@example.com
NEW LENOX — Two women said they were attacked by a man on a bicycle Monday on the Old Plank Road Trail.
Man arrested in reported attacks on women on Will County Forest Preserve trails
Police investigate potential Bolingbrook, Lockport robbery connection
University Park man charged with armed robbery
Joliet store robbed Tuesday
Assault rifle used in Joliet gas station robbery
Shoes, cellphone and cash stolen in two Joliet Township robberies
Will County Forest Preserve spokeswoman Cindy Cain said the first attack occurred at 6:30 p.m. while a 25-year-old New Lenox woman was running near the Bluestone Bay subdivision.
“A man on a bike came up behind her and grabbed her hip. They fell into the grass and scuffled before she was able to run away,” Cain said.
About 15 minutes later a 19-year-old New Lenox woman running near Constitution Road ignored an oncoming bike rider’s gesture for a high-five, according to Cain.
“She ran past and he got off the bike, tackled her and began beating her,” Cain said.
The assailant knocked out some of the woman’s teeth and threatened to sexually assault her before she was able to escape, Cain said.
While these incidents were being reported, a motorist called police after striking a bicycle rider at the trail’s Lake Street crossing. The rider did not stop after the collision.
A New Lenox police officer used a motorcycle to ride onto the trail and found Victor Hermida, 25, of Franklin Park, carrying a damaged bicycle, according to reports.
Hermida was identified as the attacker and was arrested, Cain said. The Will County State’s Attorney’s office is expected to file formal charges Tuesday.
The first jogger was uninjured. The second was treated at Silver Cross Hospital.
Cain said Tuesday there was a robbery reported on the trail in early August but have not been any similar attacks.
“We urge everyone to be cautious and stay aware of their surroundings to stay safe on the trails,” she said.