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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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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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Home rule, no financial panacea for struggling Illinois municipalities

A four part survey by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies found that several significant changes occurred in home rule municipalities between 1986 and 2002. First and foremost, there was a very significant increase in the use of home rule taxing powers. Additional retail sales taxes were increased in 61% of the home rule cities, and property tax statutory limits were exceeded by two in five home rule municipalities. The study concluded that, “Clearly, taxation has become a major use of municipal home rule powers...

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S.A.F.E. attacks county board on sheriff’s budget – lack sufficient information

The S.A.F.E. group is again personally attacking those members of the Winnebago County Board, who are trying to hold the line on property taxes to balance a 2018 budget deficit of $6.9 million. Our board members are accused of being against public safety simply because some members disagree with S.A.F.E’s position on the amount of funding for the sheriff’s office, basing their position on data prior to the time Sheriff Caruana took office. Let’s look at facts, not threats! The starting point for the sheriff’s 2018 budget discussion logically...

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Winnebago county-wide officials bypass county board budget statutes

In last month’s article, “Local taxpayers affected by unfunded state mandates,” it was determined to be a challenge for local taxing districts to balance their budget with additional expenditures being continuously imposed upon them from Springfield. It is no less challenging having some of our county-wide independently elected officials and department heads adding additional taxpayer dollars to their departmental budget allocations, while bypassing county board approval, which is required by state law. This year, Winnebago County faces a...

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Local taxpayers affected by unfunded state mandates

It’s challenging for a local taxing body to balance their budget without additional unfunded state mandates being imposed on them from Springfield, whether it’s the Illinois Supreme Court in the first example below or the general assembly in the second example, which hasn’t balanced a budget in over a decade. Effective November 1, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court amended its Rule 941concerning the “Use of Restraints on a Minor in all juvenile delinquency proceedings arising under the Juvenile Court Act” of 1987. This ruling mandates that...

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