Saturday, September 21, 2013

WalkingBy Nancy Thorner –

Property taxes, of which a large percentage is used to support our local school systems, are getting out of hand in many districts across Illinois and throughout this nation.  While a large percentage of assessed property taxes go to fund school districts, unfortunately the extra spending to operate schools has not improved the quality of education in the past twenty years. Why? For in looking at any school budget the majority of spending goes for salary and administration costs, not particularly to benefit students.

Although taxes are high in my own school district, Lake Forest #115, the issue hasn’t been bought front and center as it now has been in the Barrington School System #220 in western Lake County by Thomas Banfield, a resident of the Garlands Retirement Community and Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee.

Having first met Mr. Banfield when I attended a lecture sponsored by the Barrington History Museum in Lake County at the Garlands Performing Arts Center in Barrington, Illinois, on August 26, Banfield was introduced as a retired Commander U.S. Navy and Nuclear Submariner.  Subsequently, Mr. Banfield spoke about the U.S. nuclear submarine program under Admiral Rickover and the tragic loss of the USS Thresher over 50 years ago.   My two-part writeup of Banfield’s lecture was posted at Illinois Review on Friday, August 30th, and Sunday, September 1st.

Recently I had contact with Thomas Banfield in a role that was a new one for me.  As Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee for The Garlands of Barrington, Mr. Banfield shared with me the concerns of Garland residents over the escalation of real estate taxes as they apply to Barrington School District #220.

Below is Mr. Banfield’s letter which, in all probability, is not unlike the tax burden some property owners and residents are experiencing in your school districts.
220 District School Board Public Hearing
Presentation By
The Garlands of Barrington
September 17, 2013

My name is Thomas Banfield. I am a resident of the Garlands Retirement Community and I am the Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee.

I would like to preface my comments by stating that we at The Garlands understand the benefits of the fine Barrington school system. We are proud of it. As taxpayers we pay for the cost – which is fine—as long as we think that the expenses are cost efficient and that the tax is fairly distributed.

When we received our real estate tax bill this year we saw that it was about 15% higher than last year. In looking into the reasons, we found that it was because the Lake Co. Tax Rate went up 15.3 %. So we examined the tax bill to see how much of the Lake Co. increase was attributed to each of the taxing bodies. We found that the tax rate for the Barrington 220 School District went up 17.2 %.

This caused us great concern, so we met with the Superintendent of Schools and the President of the Board of Education. They were very helpful in explaining the multiple elements making up the tax calculations and how the Board operates in preparing the budgets.

We found that School Districts are allowed to increase the Tax Levy each year by the amount of the CPI-U and new growth. This then allows the Board to increase costs by similar amounts each year.

The planned increases in total expenditures as detailed in the 220 District 2012-2013 Final Budget as of 4/13/2013 are:   FY 2012 $2.0 million, up 1.6%; FY 2013 $4.7 million, up 3.7%; FY 2014 $5.5 million, up 4.2%; FY 2015 $5.8 million, up 4.2%; and FY 2016 $6.7 million, up 4.7%.

This brings me to the main thrust of our comments. Being able to increase costs each year creates what we call a “mindset” that it is OK to increase costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %. This is an inflationary mindset that, in view of the troubling overall forecasts of assessment evaluations and government funding, is not a sustainable mindset.

The total assessed valuation in Lake County decreased last year by as much as 10% in some areas. One out of seven households in the area suffered loss of employment or under-employment in recent years. School District 220 did not reflect any recognition of these two facts. According to the US Government, wages and salaries increased by 1.7% last year. Thus the income of our citizens is not keeping pace with inflation and is not able to afford the rate of increase in taxes of School District 220.

We believe that instead of increasing costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %, the School Board should be looking to decrease costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %. How can the Board bring this about?

Changing the mindset:

1. When someone wants to adopt a new and necessary program costing $1,000, $10,000 or $50,000, they need to eliminate an existing program(s) that is no longer vital to the school that costs $1,000, $10,000 or $50,000.

2. When the Board first meets to work on next year’s budget, ask each Board member to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

3. Ask the Superintendant to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

4. Ask the PTO to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

5. Ask the teachers’ union to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

6. Ask the teachers to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

7. Ask the Student Advisory Council to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

8. Put out a suggestion box asking the students to come up with ways to cut costs.

If carried out, these suggestions have the further benefit of stimulating all the named parties to become more cost-conscious than before.

In summary, we are concerned that the current mindset of the School Board is inflationary and unsustainable. While we have presented ways in which the private sector would try to cut costs, we ask the School Board at least to hold expenditure increases below the cost-of-living.

This concludes my comments. Thank you for your consideration.

Thomas Banfield

Barrington, IL

Local school districts must be held accountable.  Without citizen interest and action school districts basically do what they wish and get away with it. They also are not immune to corruption.
Thomas Banfield is to be applauded for his work on behalf of The Garlands in Barrington.  It is up to each one of us to challenge our school districts whether it be on taxes, on issues of transparency, or on other issues that demand attention.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 04:34 PM | Permalink

According to an online biography, Bill Kurtis (born William Horton Kuretich; September 21, 1940) is an American television journalist, producer, narrator, and news anchor. He is also the current host of A&E crime and news documentary shows, including Investigative Reports, American Justice, and Cold Case Files. Previously, he anchored CBS Morning News, and was the longtime anchor at WBBM-TV, the CBS owned-and-operated TV station in Chicago (a role to which he has recently returned).

Given Bill Kurtis’ long TV career in and around the Chicago area, and his far reaching public role as a narrator and producer of documentaries, the name of Bill Kurtis has a aura of familiarity about it, especially here in Chicagoland.

Has Bill Kurtis gone too far afield in attempting to be an expert on subject matter of which he has no background to report or to comment about? This is not an uncommon happening among “celebrities” who feel that what they have to say is all important and worth listening to. Also at fault is a gullible, believing and trusting public audience who likewise lacks the knowledge to decipher truth from just a bunch of hooey.

As coincidence would have it, on Wednesday, December 5th, the day after I heard a presentation titled “Climate Change and Renewable Energy — the Rest of the Story” by Steve Goreham, Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition, to the Barrington Kiwanis Club at The Garlands Performing Arts Center in Barrington, a commentary appeared in the Lake County News-Sun by Bill Kurtis on global warming.

It was evident that Bill Kurtis didn’t attempt to do any research to write his article that rates an F in scientific accuracy, but instead used information that he had been spoon fed under the guise of consensus by politicians over the years and ardent believers of man-made global warming, most famous among them Al Gore.

Kurtis had the audacity to say that “a small number of skeptics have managed to take the adrenaline out of the global warming movement; and by creating the impression that there are actually two sides to the issue, they have stalled efforts to do something about it.”

There are thousands of skeptics world-wide whose viewpoints do not reach the general public, trampled down by a news media that chooses to promote global warming alarmism through selective reporting. 900,000 years of ice core records show continuous 1,500-year warming cycles, while carbon dioxide is to plants what oxygen is to man; it is not a pollutant.

Veterans of American’s space program are among the 49 retired NASA employees who in May of this year asked NASA to halt what they consider its unscientific advocacy of climate alarmism. Among them are Apollo astronauts Phillip K. Chapman, Walter Cunningham, Charles Duke, Richard Gordon (also a Gemini veteran), Harrison Schmitt and Al Worden.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, told London’s Daily Telegraph: “if it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today.” Aldrin believes the climate has been changing for billions of years.

I was struck at how Bill Kurtis latched on to the idea from James Hansen that a CO2 level above 350 parts per million isn’t safe. According to Kurtis we are now all living in an “unsafe” world when last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a 2012 level of 391.01 parts per million at their Hawaiian observatory. It is demonstrably not true that we live in an unsafe world, but it doesn’t shake Kurtis’ faith in ATG (man-made global warming).

Assumptions made by Bill Kurtis in his pseudo article on global warming cannot be allowed to stand uncorrected. Clarifications are found in Steve Goreham’s new book — The Mad, Mad, Mad, World of Climatism; Mankind and Climate Change Mania — which will make you laugh at the absurdity of man-made global warming — that is, until it makes you cry. The foreword is by Harrison Schmitt, Senator and Apollo Astronaut:

1. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas and only a very small part of Earth’s climate. (Chapter 5)

2. Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas is water vapor, not CO2. While the CO2 increase appears alarming, mankind contribute only about 1% of Earth’s greenhouse effect. (Chapter 5)

3. Hurricanes and storms are not more extreme. (Chapter 7)

4. Earth has been warmer in the recent past (2000 years ago in the Medieval Warm Period) with no effects from man-made emissions. (Chapter 4)

It is time to reject journalists like Bill Kurtis who lack scientific training, and other who propagate their failed eco-predictions, false green hypocrisies, and outright fraud that is currently masquerading under the guise of modern environmentalism and ‘climate science.’

This nation has many problems, but global warming is not one of them. If the present administration insists on following through on what is a hoax, the results will bring far reaching catastrophic financial consequences for this nation and its people. It is folly to think that this nation’s industries can be run on bio-fuels, wind and sunbeams.

Perhaps nobody has ever offered a more succinct indictment of the global warming hoax than H. L. Mencken, who said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”