Shell Game

How much longer will the county be relying on the misguided use of the RTA Tax to balance the budget? This is the question I asked on October 19, 2014. In a letter sent to DuPage County Chairman on September 29, 2015 I asked a rhetorical question, what percent of the RTA sales tax is going to the transportation budget?

 

Time and time again we hear how DuPage County has held the line on property taxes. How has DuPage been the only county to figure out how to keep the property tax levy flat for the past 6 years and keep the county in the black? It’s a shell game.  In January of 2008 the RTA sales tax rate was increased by 0.25% in Cook County and by 0.50% in the Collar Counties. Proceeds of the sales tax increase in the Collar Counties are divided evenly between the RTA and the county where the tax is collected. The proceeds awarded to the Collard Counties can be only utilized for transportation and/or public safety.

 

While the other Collar Counties which include Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will, rely on property tax as their major source of revenue, DuPage County’s largest source of revenue is sales tax. Currently 56.8 percent of the DuPage County’s revenue source is sales tax, which includes the RTA sales tax that can only be utilized for transportation and/or public safety.  It might sound like a good idea to use sales tax as the largest portion of revenues but it is also very dangerous. In September of 2016 Moody’s downgraded DuPage County’s AAA rating. Crain’s  Chicago Business reporter Greg Hinz reported the following “The downgrade reflects Fitch’s concern (about) the county’s limited revenue flexibility and slow revenue growth prospects,” the New York firm wrote. “(Fitch’s) revised criteria placed increased focus on Fitch’s expectations for the natural pace of revenue growth without revenue-raising measures and the ability of an entity to independently increase revenue.” In general, Fitch said it expects revenue from existing taxes to grow “slightly below historical trends” and generally only in line with national inflation. “While sales tax revenue has growth between 4 percent and 5 percent annually over the past several years, it has slowed to only 1 percent growth in fiscal 2016, leading the county to change its growth assumptions going forward to only 2 percent growth.”

 

During the January 9, 2018 meeting of the DuPage  Finance Committee, I requested a time frame for a discussion to take place regarding revenues. We finally started the discussion during the May 22, 2018 DuPage County Finance Committee meeting. There was a lot of discussion; Member Don Puchalski commented that all of the collar counties Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will use the RTA for transportation, which according to the legislation is an appropriate use of the funds. None of the RTA sales tax is used for transportation in DuPage County. Member Puchalski is the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, you could hear the frustration in his voice. The RTA tax is  integral to the funding of our roads and public transit. Member Puchalski asked for further discussion on the use of the RTA sales tax and I agreed. I asked if the reason the county was able to keep the property tax levy flat was due to our reliance of the RTA sales tax to balance the budget? 

 

We’ve seen this movie before in DuPage County. It happened at the DuPage Water Commission. The quarter percent sales tax was to be used to pay off the 150 million dollars in General Obligation Bonds.  That is how the referendum was presented to the citizens of DuPage County. Rather than use the sales tax to pay down the debt the DuPage Water Commission used the sales tax to stabilize water rates to the Commission Charter customers.  The rate that the Charter Customers (municipalities) paid for water during the inception was 1.95 per thousand gallons.  The rate the  Commission customers were paying was dropped to 1.45 per thousand gallons of water and eventually lowered more. Besides lowering the water rate the sales tax was used to dish out rebates to the Charter Customers (municipalities) in the amount of 66.3 million dollars. I had serious concerns, whether the savings from the rebates or rate reductions were passed on to the citizens. I also had serious concerns that the loss from regular operations had been steadily climbing and at some point would overwhelm the sales tax and income investment income. That’s exactly what happened.

 

Some good news came out of the May 22nd Finance Committee Meeting when the majority of the board agreed that we need to hold a special call meeting to continue the revenue discussion.

 

Shell Game Information here. 

More information on Don Puchalski here.

RTA Sales Tax  Legislation Information here.

Crain’s Chicago Business – Moody’s Information here. 

January 9, 2018 Finance Meeting Minutes here.

DuPage Water Commission Information Below

DuPage Water Commission Faces Dissolution By State

An Independent Voice on the DuPage County Board

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brain and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” – Adrienne Rich

 
I am proud to be an independent voice for the people of DuPage County. An in-depth analysis of the voting habits of the DuPage County Board was done by the College of DuPage and The University of Illinois at Chicago Departments of Political Science.
The report seeks to provide voters with an analysis of the board members voting histories so they can decide how well the board members are addressing there concerns, and consequently, citizens can hold their board members accountable for their actions.

The Conclusion:

In the most recent period, an increase in opposition is visible. While data shows this is normal for Member Chaplin, a few other members have become slightly more independent as well.

You can read the full report here.

 

Village of Lisle Backyard Chicken Survey

As more people are seeking a sustainable lifestyle some local governments are seeking ways to accommodate the people they represent.

Good job Lisle.

Village of Lisle Backyard Chicken Survey

In response to recent requests from Lisle residents to keep backyard chickens, the Village Board has asked that further input from the community be gathered in the form of a short online survey.

The Village intends to continue the prohibition on roosters; the survey questions are exclusively related to the keeping of chickens. Survey results will be tabulated and presented to the Village Board to assist them with policy making decisions regarding this topic. Responses are anonymous with the opportunity to provide contact information at the end of the survey.

The deadline to fill out the survey is Thursday, May 31, 2018.

The survey can be found here.

 

CANDIDATE KACZMAERK

I would have to say that Jean Kaczmarek is the gem of DuPage County. As a citizen watch dog for over a decade Jean has uncovered numerous anomalies at the DuPage Election Commission. Please take a few minutes to listen to her latest statement.

Let’s Dance – Raising Funds For DuPage County Senior Citizens

On May 12, Sean Allen and I will be on the dancefloor to raise awareness and funds for the DuPage Senior Citizens Council at the 7th Annual Dancing with the Starz Benefit Gala.

 The DuPage Senior Citizens Council’s mission is to support seniors in need to live their lives with dignity. They provide many services including:

Meals on Wheels
 
Well-being checks
 
Yard clean-ups
 
Handyman services
 
I invite you to support Sean and I as we raise awareness and funds for this important organization.  Here is how you can get involved:
 
Vote for Liz and Sean!  Each dollar pledged = one vote you can use the link provided to my dancer page and choose an amount that is comfortable for you or select your own amount.
You can attend the event!
Your support is appreciated.
Liz Chaplin

DuPage County Election Commission Will Terminate Contracts With Liberty Systems

During the March 27th meeting of the DuPage County Board I called for the termination of the contract with Liberty Systems. Liberty Systems is the vendor who provided the faulty ender cards that caused the debacle on election night. I also said that the county should seek reimbursement for damages. During yesterday’s meeting of the DuPage County Board Chairman Cronin announced that the DuPage Election Commission will terminate all contracts with Liberty Systems and the county will be reimbursed for damages. Below is a video of my comments.

Comments here.

The Daily Herald Reports the following here.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ANYONE VOTING ON TUESDAY MARCH 20th

When voting  please make sure your ballot is initialed by the election judge. If your ballot is not initialed your vote does not count. Please make sure you get a receipt. If you notice political signs or electioneering within 100 ft from the door of your polling place make sure you report it.

If you experience any problems at the polls please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

 

 

 

CHAPLIN CALLS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEATLH AND WATER QUALITY ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE 2018 DUPAGE COUNTY FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

After the  discovery in 2001 that our well water was contaminated with Trichloroethylene  (TCE) the EPA sent letters to 800 home owners in unincorporated Lisle Township telling us to immediately stop using our water. We could not drink or cook with our water. We could not bathe in our water. We were instructed to shower with a window open or exhaust fan on so we would breath in the toxic chemical. For two and a half years we lived in a home that had no value. We worried about the health of our children, our friends and neighbors. We attended meetings of all local government bodies, traveled to Springfield and worked with the U.S. EPA to find a safe water supply. .

The EPA has classified TCE “likely to be carcinogenic in humans by all routes of exposure.”

In December of 2016 the EPA published a proposed rule that would ban the use of TCE under the Toxic Substance Control Act based on health risks from its commercial and consumer use as a degreaser and spot cleaner in the dry cleaning process. According to the EPA the use of TCE in this manner causes an “unreasonable risk to human health.” In December of 2017 the EPA suggested that it would overturn or delay the ban on toxic chemicals including TCE.

As soon as I learned of the plan to overturn the toxic chemical ban I contacted my colleague Sam Tornatore who serves as Chairman of the Legislative Committee. I explained in an email our experience and that of our neighbors with the toxic chemical TCE. I asked that DuPage County take a position and support of the ban of TCE and other toxic chemicals.

I am pleased that the 2018 DuPage County Federal Legislative Priorities includes Environmental Health and Water Quality Issues both of which were based on my recommendations. DuPage County urges the U.S. EPA to reconsider the delay in the implementation of the ban of TCE to protect the health and safety of our residents.

The 2018 DuPage County Federal Legislative Priorities passed unanimously out of committee on February 27, 2018.  The 2018 DuPage County Federal Legislative Priorities will come before the DuPage County Board on March 13, 2018 for the final and binding vote.

You can find the 2018 DuPage County Federal Legislative Priorities here.

You can find more on TCE here

You can learn more about the roll back on toxic chemicals here. 

The Daily Herald Reports: DuPage County Board members largely agree with Cronin

There are fundamental differences of my beliefs and that of my Republican colleagues on the DuPage County Board. However, I am always willing to work with my colleagues on common sense measures that will benefit the community. I also never shy away from asking questions, challenging practices and voting against measures that maybe problematic or go against my beliefs.

The Daily Herald’s Robert Sanchez Reports the following:

Even Elizabeth Chaplin — the board’s only Democrat — says she tries to work with Republican colleagues most of the time.

According to the study, Chaplin agreed with the vice chairman on only 29 percent of the divided roll call votes between December 2016 and November 2017.

Chaplin said many of her dissenting votes were related to pay increases for elected officials, lobbying contracts and the budget. She said she also opposed hiring vendors who have made numerous campaign contributions to county board members.

You can read the full story here.

DuPage County May Support Common Sense Gun Control Laws

Tim Elliott, my colleague on the DuPage County Board, made a very passionate and eloquent statement regarding gun violence during a recent meeting of DuPage County Legislative Committee. Tim made a recommendation that the county support a measure that would ban bump stocks that allow guns to fire more rapidly. I fully support Tim’s recommendation.

Last week I sent an email to  members of the DuPage County Health Department, Sheriff’s Office and the Chairmen of the Health and Human Service, Judicial Public Safety and Legislative committees to gather support in finding solutions that protects the 2nd amendment but will also keep our children safe by supporting common sense gun control laws.

The legislation I recommended includes SB1657 Gun Dealer Licensing (GDL) sponsored by Don Harmon. SB1657 provides that it is unlawful for a person to engage in the business of selling, leasing, or otherwise transferring firearms without a license issued by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Provides that a dealership agent other than a dealer licensee-in-charge may act on behalf of the licensed dealership without being licensed as a dealer under the Act.

Another important piece of legislation is SB559 The Lethal Violence Order of Protection (LVOP). SB559 will allow family members of people exhibiting symptoms of severe mental health crises, like the school shooter in Parkland did, to petition the courts to remove their firearms on a temporary basis.

Gun violence has become a public health crisis. I want the senseless killing of our children come to an end.  Since our federal government is failing us, it is up to us at the local level to act.

I am proud of my colleague Tim Elliott for making a bold statement on the issue of gun violence.  I look forward to working with Tim and rally support for these common sense gun reform laws that are long past due.

The Daily Herald reports the following:

Some county board members are calling on DuPage to weigh in on the gun control debate by supporting or opposing several proposals in Springfield, including a ban on bump stocks.

County board member Tim Elliott says a number of state laws are being proposed after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

“As a county, it would be easy for us to say, ‘That’s Springfield’s deal. Let’s let them pass whatever legislation they’re going to pass,'” Elliott told members of the county board’s legislative and government affairs committee on Tuesday. “But I don’t think that position would be consistent with our core values.”

You can read the story here.

You can find the full text of SB1657 here.

You can find the full text of SB559 here.