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Northwest Homer Fire Protection District looks to raise tax rate

Northwest Homer Fire Protection District looks to raise tax rate

Elissa Chudwin, Editor
5:47 pm CST February 11, 2016

The Northwest Homer Fire Protection District is seeking an increase to fire service fees during the March 15 general primary election to help pay for building maintenance and new equipment.

The fire district is comprised of two stations — located at 16152 W. 143rd St. and 13010 W. 143rd St. — that serve 10 square miles in Lockport, Homer Glen, Lemont Township and unincorporated Cook County. It is requesting a temporary 9-cent increase to raise the tax rate from .491 percent to .5796 percent for four years.

If the referendum were to pass, a homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 would see an approximate tax increase of $30 per year, according to a Northwest Homer Fire Protection District release.

“We’re hoping it generates [at least] $325,000 over the next four years,” Fire Chief Ken Vrba said.

The fire district is requesting additional revenue to replace overhead garage doors for 15 bays, both stations’ windows,  a water tanker and the stations’ generators, according to a Northwest Homer Fire Protection District release. The fire station also needs new roofs, new furnaces at Station One, and new A/C units at both stations within the next five years.

“The roofs were replaced 20 years ago,”  Vrba said. “They’ll be due to be replaced soon.”

Deputy Fire Chief Todd Fonfara said the building and equipment’s age is why so much maintenance is needed. The water tanker, which transports water to neighborhoods without fire hydrants, is roughly 33 years old, and many of the parts are no longer manufactured, he said. The estimated cost to replace the tanker is $230,000.

“Now we’re at the point where we can’t do everything else,” Vrba said.

Vrba added several vehicles are also aging and that the fire district has already pushed back their replacement dates.

“We don’t want to provide people with old equipment when we’re taking them to the hospital,” Fonfara said.

While a referendum has not passed since 1980, this is the third time the fire district is attempting to increase fire service fees since 2007, according to Fonfara.

Vrba said the recession impacted the referendum in 2007 and may have prevented it from passing.

“We lost dramatically,” he said. “Unfortunately, there were three other referendums on the ballot … The economy was starting to take a turn. Every ballot in the spring failed.”

Because past referendums have failed, lack of funding left the fire district unable to renovate the building and replace equipment, according to Vrba. The tax rate of the Northwest Fire Protection District also is significantly lower than surrounding areas’ fire districts, he said.

According to a Northwest Homer Fire Protection District document, the Homer Township Fire Protection District, which encompasses 20 square miles, has a tax rate of 1.1093 percent. The Lockport Township Fire Protection District, which serves 42 square miles, has a tax rate of 1.2328 percent. The Lemont Fire Protection District, which covers 40 square miles, has a tax rate of .899 percent.

“We’ve had our numbers very tight,” Vrba said. “We’re half of what Homer Township spends, but we’re accused of being fiscally irresponsible. So that’s not true.”

Firefighters plan to walk door-to-door to advocate for the referendum on Feb. 20, according to Fonfara. The fire district also has posted information on its Facebook page and website at www.nwhomer.org.

– See more at: http://www.lockportlegend.com/northwest-homer-fire-protection-district-looks-raise-tax-rate#sthash.Z0tTAFYZ.dpuf

Source: Will County News

Obama Wants Universal Internet ID

Obama Wants Universal Internet ID That Is Not Facebook

human bar code Obama Wants Universal Internet ID That Is Not FacebookThe Obama Administration is planning to give the Commerce Department control over a new effort to create auniversal Internet ID for every American.

According to CBS, the gig was given to the Commerce Department, as opposed to the NSA, to ease concerns that government intelligence agencies were learning too much about the average citizen. Wait…aren’t the online advertising companies the ones building the most detailed profiles of users? Oh well, moving on.


“We are not talking about a national ID card,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

As the recent Gawker hack showed, Locke has a point. It turned out that tons of users were protecting their identity with passwords like “1234567” and “cheese.” Not only was Gawker’s site compromised, but the hack quickly rippled out to other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, where users employed the same puny passwords.

Check Out The 25 Dumbest Gawker Passwords, In Order, Right Here >>

The solution being considered now is a switch to more secure logins, like the OAuth system, which allows users to sign in from their Google or Facebook accounts.

Government ID would likely function in a similar way, an optional profile that users can create which is protected and validated by the government for use logging in to sites or paying for goods online.

Privacy sensitive users uncomfortable with giant corporations or government agencies acting as the arbiter of their online identity may want to get out a pencil now and start writing their passwords down in a very safe place.

Source: Will County News

Tuitions have skyrocketed to pay for administrative bloat and exorbitant salaries,


Every young adult in Illinois deserves a chance at college. For many, a college degree is the path to breaking out of a cycle of poverty. For others, it’s a badge of honor to build upon the hard work of their parents. And it used to be that if someone couldn’t afford the cost of college, he could work his way through.

But years of massive growth in higher-education bureaucracies and outrageous increases in administrative pay and employee pension benefits have had an incredibly harmful effect.

Lower-income students are now priced out of a college degree. Tuitions have skyrocketed to pay for the administrative bloat and exorbitant salaries, and the costs are falling on taxpayers – and on families and students who are trying to get ahead through higher education.

Now, if low-income students want a college degree, they are forced into crippling debt. More than 1.7 million Illinoisans hold student-loan debt, including 70 percent of the state’s class of 2013 – the fourth-highest rate in the country. Total student-loan debt in Illinois is approaching $50 billion.

In addition to debt, many students are now forced to depend on grants. But for too many would-be students, college is no longer an option.

It’s not surprising to see university and college administrators across Illinois searching desperately for a scapegoat as the state’s budget crisis exposes the mess they’ve created. Instead of admitting their problems are self-inflicted, university officials have settled on blaming the state instead.

Due to the budget gridlock, the state has not appropriated nearly $2 billion in funding for higher education. That’s obviously had an impact on university and college budgets. But higher-education institutions don’t steward this money responsibly to help keep college affordable. Instead, those funds are funneled into skyrocketing administrative costs.

Listening to university officials, however, doesn’t provide the real story. So here it is:

Students are losing access to college because colleges and universities have massively increased tuitions. Combined tuition and fees have grown by over 100 percent at many universities. Even at institutions such as Chicago State University, which serves low-income students, annual tuition and fee costs now equal $11,758, up 77 percent since 2006.

Illinois’ public universities and colleges have forced students and families to pay more and more each year in tuition, whether in the form of cash, federal student loans or state money, then used those funds to hire more and more administrators. Administrative staff increased by 31 percent between 2004 and 2010, while the student and faculty populations each increased by less than 3 percent. Chicago State University has the most administrators per student, by far, of any Illinois university.

Tuition increases have also been used to push executive compensation to exorbitant levels. Over half of Illinois’ 2,465 university administrators received a base salary of $100,000 or more in 2015.

And Illinois’ top higher-education administrators receive additional compensation – housing allowances, cars, club memberships and generous bonuses – that cost colleges and universities millions of dollars each year.

Those big salaries have led to pension benefits that neither Illinois taxpayers – nor students – can afford.

Over 25 percent of university pensioners will receive between $1 million and $2 million in total retirement benefits, while 15 percent will receive more than $2 million in benefits. Early retirement ages – 50 percent of university workers retire in their 50s – and high salaries, coupled with a 3 percent automatic annual benefit boost, allow many university workers to become millionaire pensioners.

That combination of higher salaries and generous pension benefits has put a tremendous strain on the universities’ pension system. The retirement benefits accrued by university workers have grown by 780 percent since 1987, or 8.4 percent yearly.

As a result, the state now appropriates more than 50 percent of its $4.1 billion higher-education budget toward retirement costs. A decade ago, retirement costs made up only 20 percent of the state’s total higher-education spending.

College and university officials and politicians are taking advantage of the budget gridlock to blame the state for their current woes – but all the evidence shows the crisis in higher education is self-inflicted.

Rather than blame the state for their own mistakes, universities and colleges need to reform their spending, with the primary goal of increasing the accessibility of college for all students.

To that end, they must reduce salaries and eliminate administrative bloat – then pass the resulting savings on to students so that all Illinoisans can afford a quality higher education.

The state can also help by fixing the broken university pension system – starting bymoving new university workers onto 401(k)-style plans based on the current SURS self-managed plan program.

In addition, enacting a constitutional amendment allowing Illinois to reform pension benefits for existing workers going forward will go a long way toward fixing the problemswith higher education in Illinois.

Ted Dabrowski
Vice President of Policy

Source: Will County News