Look at federal taxes paid, not size of refund

As Americans file their taxes by this Monday’s April 15, 2019 deadline, they might be surprised that most received a tax cut due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, despite the media’s continuous coverage that tax refunds will be smaller than the previous year. A Washington Post headline announced on February 10, 2019, “Millions of Americans could be stunned as their tax refunds shrink.” Two days later, The New York Times reported, “Smaller Tax Refunds Surprise those Expecting More Relief.” Two days after that, National Public Radio...

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City collects $4M utility taxes, now proposes fees to pay water bill

The Rockford Register Star reported Tuesday that City officials are proposing a fee for the “convenience” of paying our monthly garbage and water bills. The proposal calls for a $3 fee per transaction for one-time payments over the phone and a $2 fee for one-time payments online. On top of those fees, there would be a $2 monthly convenience fee for those who still get paper bills mailed to their home or $5 per paper bill. These fees are in addition to the almost $4 million dollars the city will collect by adding a 5 percent charge to...

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Ordinance shifts 911 financial/contractual issues to county administration

The debate framed by the Rockford Register Star in last Sunday’s op-ed was that the Winnebago County 911 service has been caught up in political games. The editorial further opined that people don’t care about political fiefdoms, budget deficits or the color of squad cars dispatched when one’s life is literally on the line. The “wrangling” over the 911 service, as far as the county board is concerned, has been to keep the 911 Center functioning after the sheriff unilaterally announced he had cut the 911 budget by one-half and given the staff...

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Home rule disenfranchises Rockford taxpayers

Government is supposed to be of, by and for the people. Home rule is government “despite” the people. If home rule is approved, putting aside for the moment both sides marketing campaigns, Rockford taxpayers will effectively be giving up their vote for or against any future referendums on tax issues, debt or sunset clauses that provide the checks and balance to hold city officials financially accountable. Illinois’ Home Rule is a one-size-fits-all statute, unlike surrounding states, which allow local officials and the community to create a...

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Inmate lockdown lawsuits influence sheriff’s budget dispute

The number of lawsuits filed by the inmates against Winnebago County Sheriff Caruana currently stand at twenty-one with undoubtedly more on the way. This is the inmate’s response to an unanticipated upsurge in the number of lockdown hours triggered by the sheriff in the months immediately following the layoff of 10 correction officers. The lawsuits are identical except for the name of the inmate, suggesting an organized campaign to reduce the lockdowns. How did the county get into this position? First, county spending has exceeded revenues....

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