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Dick Barr

Lindenfest, the Epitome of Community

Lindenfest, the Epitome of Community

This weekend I was so honored and grateful to have the opportunity to spend so much time with residents of Lindenhurst and Lake Villa at the Annual Lindenfest Festival and parade.

Not only was it a genuine good time for me and my family, it was such a beautiful example of how communities come together to make things happen and be with each other in a fun and happy environment.

On a more solemn note, it was also uplifting to see so many people from the community come out for an impromptu prayer vigil to pray for the rapid recovery of the the sweet little girl who was struck by a vehicle Friday night in Lindenhurst.  Members of the community from all around, Lindenfest committee members, village officials, police and even family of the little girl, Leah, all showed up to share their prayers and wishes for her recovery.

I ask that everyone please continue to pray for Leah and her family. I’d also like to ask for everyone to pray for the poor driver who was caught by surprise and now must personally deal with the horrible tragic accident.

Lastly, I want to thank to 60+ supporters who braved the heat to walk with me and my family in Saturday’s parade. You are all an amazing group of people, and I am truly humbled by your support!

 

Lake County Needs to Reevaluate it’s P-Card use for Board Members

Lake County Needs to Reevaluate it’s P-Card use for Board Members

In light of recent allegations of abuse with the County’s P-Card system, I would like to propose a replacement system for the County Board Members to contemplate for Members.

While some have suggested a simple reimbursement plan to eliminate P-Cards, unfortunately that does not solve the problem, as well has the unintended consequence of utilizing additional staff time, which I believe would cost more than any savings to the tax payer.

The problem lies in the gap between use of public funds and how it is approved for use. A simple reimbursement plan would not solve the question of appropriate use of tax payer money. It would be unfair to any employee of the county to be in a position of having to challenge elected officials they report to, especially when those officials have the ability to fire them.

To bridge that gap, I suggest a reimbursement (or prior approved requisition in the case of large expenses) system that goes through the finance committee to be voted on by all the Committee members.

This would allow expenses to be approved or rejected in a public forum on a non partisan basis, would not take up additional staff time, and add a TRANSPARENT layer of ACCOUNTABILITY to the process.

I also believe the Board needs to evaluate its existing rules (which they are in the process of doing now) and focus on creating a very clear cut and common sense list of purposes and rules that govern elected officials’ use of tax payer funds.

If elected, I will push for the discontinued use of Board Member P-Cards, and further vow to not accept one for my own use.

Grant High School District 124 to See HUGE Drop in Property Taxes for Residents

Grant High School District 124 to See HUGE Drop in Property Taxes for Residents

Congratulations to the School Board of Grant High School District #124, who has paid off it’s bonds and have chosen to give the tax payers a real break.

Very often school boards see paying off of debt as an opportunity to raise more debt under the guise of “Keeping taxes the same”. The Board of District 124 has decided to give the tax payers a break instead.

Here is the text of their announcement:

With the green grass of spring arriving shortly, property owners within Grant Community High School boundaries will see more green in their pockets too!
Property tax owners will soon be seeing a savings in their tax bills. In December of 2017, the District paid off all of the debt that was associated with the facility improvements over the years to accommodate enrollment growth. The tax rate for Grant Community High School is dropping over 25 percent and the owner of a $250,000 home will see our portion of their property taxes drop $665 this year. The District is thankful for our supportive
taxpayers, whose dedication to Grant Community High School have given us the facilities that we have. We are grateful to have the debt paid off and be able to provide some tax relief to property owners.
The District administration will continue to monitor the tax rates each year and are committed to working with the Board to find ways to ease the taxpayers’ burden.

Dick Barr Tours Future Home of Busy Brains Children’s Museum in Lake Villa

Dick Barr Tours Future Home of Busy Brains Children’s Museum in Lake Villa

Had the opportunity to meet with the Directors of the Busy Brains Museum Foundation for a tour of the future home of their Children’s Museum.

They have such a vision for this place and the space and location are phenomenal. I was most interested in hearing about their plans to preserve as much as possible of the incredible vintage murals on both the North and South walls. While the South wall mural, painted most likely during the 1950’s is mostly salvageable, the older mural, likely from the 1910’s has sustained significant water damage.  I had asked them if they would be willing to carefully break the wall up into segments and auction off as a fundraiser. They agreed with the idea and they will look into.  I know I, for one, would love a section of the wall for my home or office.

They indicated they are about $300,000 away from opening their doors, and are looking to the community and businesses to help raise the funds.

Here are some photos of our tour.

Lake County District 3 Property Tax Breakdown

Lake County District 3 Property Tax Breakdown

It is no secret that the main impetus for my desire to run for Lake County Board is based on the incredibly onerous property tax system here in Illinois and Lake County.
Our taxes here in Lake County are 300 times higher than the national average and 200 times higher than the state average.
It is important to know why, before we can start to identify how to fix it.
Villages often get the blame for high taxation, since they are the taxing body closest to the people. In reality, however, most local villages tend to be very diligent stewards of the tax dollars they are entrusted with.
I have charted the property taxes for the four communities in Lake County Board District 3; Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Round Lake Beach and Round Lake Heights. I broke down the data by High School District, since that is the easiest division for illustration purposes. I based the data on a home assessed at a fair market value of $200,000. The school category includes elementary, middle and high schools where applicable. The data is based on 1 representative home for each of the high school districts.  Numbers will change slightly with different homes that have different primary schools feeding it, however, the differences are negligible and non-consequential to the point.
As you can see, the local taxing bodies, individually, have relatively low levies. In fact, all of them combined only account for about 35% of the entire tax bill. It is only when you bring in to view the school levy, that an obvious problem becomes more apparent.   Schools account for approximately 65% of the tax bill, yet so much time, effort and money has been spent trying to tell us the problem is our villages and our townships.
Are schools the main culprits in our property tax burden?  Absolutely not.  Schools are necessary for the education and foundation of our children and of course they have to spend money.  Yes, I believe there are things the state can do to help our districts save money: Consolidating school districts, getting rid of unfunded state mandates to name a couple.  But the real problem lies not with the schools themselves, yet how they are funded.
In all of our neighboring states, the state covers about 50% of the school funding, with the remainder being covered by federal funding and property taxes. In Lake County, most of our funding comes from property taxes, in many cases as high as 90%.
It is this funding formula that is making Lake County Property taxes one of the highest in the nation.
Additionally, as the Forest Preserve continues to acquire new land, that land gets removed from the property tax rolls. Every dollar of real estate acquired by the Forest preserve is no longer sharing in the paying of property taxes into perpetuity. Over the past 10 years, almost $200 Million dollars in real estate was permanently removed from the property tax rolls. The tax that would have been generated from that property is then distributed to all of the remaining property tax payers to make up.
Additionally, that land can no longer be developed by residential or business development that could add to the tax base and further reduce our tax burden.
Open space is great, but we must approach it with a more careful and measured approach.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more, please feel free to drop me a line at dickbarrforcountyboard@gmail.com.
Republican Assembly of Lake County Endorses Dick Barr

Republican Assembly of Lake County Endorses Dick Barr

The Republican Assembly of Lake County (RALC) has endorsed Dick Barr in the March 20th, 2018 Republican Primary over former RALC member, Jim Mitchell.

Candidates addressed the Assembly on January 18th. They were given three minutes for an opening statement, which was followed by a question and answer period. It has been a tradition for the RALC to endorse Republican candidates that best exemplify and represent the Principles and Beliefs of the Republican Party.

Mr. Barr spoke about his belief that property taxes in Lake County are strangling home owners, who are fleeing the county in droves in favor of the less taxed southern Wisconsin towns. He pointed to his intimate knowledge of property taxes, as a longtime Real Estate Broker and owner of his own Real Estate firm, as crucial background for understanding the pain of property tax payers throughout Lake County. He believes by helping to educate the public and increase transparency, the residents of Lake County can stand in unison in a targeted effort against the powers that work to drive up Property Taxes.

Mr. Barr also spoke to the issue of Forest Preserve acquisitions over the past 10 years, which has taken almost $200 Million dollars of land off of the tax rolls, spreading the burden of the lost income among the remaining inhabitants. He indicated that he would not support another referendum to acquire more lands by the Forest Preserve until a time when Property Taxes have become affordable for all residents, especially for seniors.

(For a more detailed explanation of Dick’s property tax strategy, click here)

Candidates must receive at least 60% of the Assembly’s vote to earn an endorsement. If no candidate achieves the 60% threshold, no endorsement is given. Mr. Barr beat out Mr. Mitchell for the endorsement, despite the fact that Mr. Mitchell was a long time member of the Assembly.

Other endorsements issued by the Assembly include:

  • Jeanne Ives for Governor
  • Doug Bennett for 10th Congressional District US Congress
  • Marko Sukovic  for 59th District State Representative
  • Adam Solano for 62nd District State Representative
  • Bob Bednar for 6th District County Board
  • Jeri Atelson for 10th District County Board
  • Grant Noble for 201st Precinct Committeeman

No endorsement was made in the following races due to not meeting the 60% vote threshold:

  • Attorney General
  • 17th District County Board

Here is the link to the RALC Press Release: http://ralc.biz/press-releases