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

Early Voting Delayed in Lake County

Early Voting Delayed in Lake County

Early Voting Delayed in Illinois

It looks like you will have to wait at least 1 more week before you can cast your ballots for me in the 3rd District, Lake County Board Republican Primary early voting period.

Early voting, which was supposed to start this Thursday, has been delayed due to a challenge to Democratic Attorney General Candidate Scott Drury. Drury was ordered off the ballot by a Cook County Judge regarding questions about his economic interest statement.

Lake County Clerk, Carla Wyckoff, has indicated the process will likely take a week. Drury has filed an appeal which needs to be decided. After the court’s decision, the State still must certify the ballots before voting can begin.

While the actual Primary Election is on March 20th, early voting was intended to start this Thursday, February 8th.  This gives me another week to meet more voters as I walk the neighborhoods.

Here is the link to the Chicago Tribune article. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-lns-lake-county-early-voting-delay-st-0207-20180206-story.html


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Property Taxes in Illinois, and What I Can Do About It

Property Taxes in Illinois, and What I Can Do About It

Many people have asked me, “Dick, you’re running for County Board, what can you do about Property Taxes?”

Those who ask understand that the Lake County Board administers only about 7% of the average homeowner’s property taxes.

Villages, Library Boards, Fire Protection Districts, Park Districts, Townships, etc. make up about another 28% of the Property Tax Bill.

…and schools make up the remaining 65% of our property tax bills.

Since I am running for a position that makes up only 7% of the tax bill, what can I possibly do to help struggling home owners?

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

The way I see my duty on County Board is to focus on not just reducing spending, but identifying ways to to provide value. This can be accomplished a few ways, but most significantly by combining purchasing power with other government bodies to effect lower prices and by working with those same governing bodies to share services, equipment and people when possible.

As a steward of the tax payer, I believe it is my duty to reject budget increases in every department, unless those increases can be tied directly to net positive investment for our district.

Forest Preserve

Another big factor in our high tax bills is the amount of land that was purchased by the Forest Preserve and removed from the tax rolls. The forest preserve has spent nearly $180 million in land acquisition over the past 10 years as a result of the 2008 referendum on the ballot. While it is nice to have that preserved land and beautiful forest, I don’t believe many residents understood the long term and terminal effect that decision had on our individual property taxes. The acquisitions were great for the commerce rich southern communities who already have a business tax base, but our community, where we have very little commerce and very little developable land, it is crushing us. I will be against any future land acquisition by the Forest Preserve until such time in the future that property taxes can be stabilized and affordable for ALL Lake County homeowners. (With the one exception of using the remainder of the $189 Million referendum to acquire property to complete the Millennium Trail, which I see as a net positive for our community.

New Business and Jobs

We also have to look at as a county why we are not attractive to new business growth. We MUST attract businesses that will bring good paying jobs, and along with tax dollars that will help alleviate the burden on us homeowners.

Too Many Taxing Bodies

We also need to look at governing bodies that can be eliminated or reduced. Lake County has 230 individual taxing bodies, some of which have not done anything in decades.

Believe it or not, the County has done a half decent job in being fiscally prudent with our money. The current board has been lowering departmental budgets by 2% for many of the last 6 years. We are also one of only 3 counties in Illinois with very low debt and a AAA Bond rating. I was disappointed with them passing the 2018 budget increase, but was proud that our current board member, Tom Weber (whose vacating seat I am looking to fill), voted against it.

All that said, the County portion of your tax bill represents only 7% of the total tax bill. So even if I were hypothetically able to reduce the county taxes by 100% (of course not possible) I would only be saving you 7% of your tax bill. (Example: If you have a $7,000 tax bill, and I were able to eliminate 100% of the county portion, I’d only save you $490)

So now, I want to explain how else I see my role as your Lake County representative…

The remaining local governing bodies represent about 28% of your tax bill. This includes villages, townships, fire protection districts, park districts, road and gravel, etc. (Everything else except schools).

I have been present and vocal at local board meetings for about half of a decade, being the voice of the tax payer. I want to work with these communities to help each other pool resources and purchasing to get everyone’s budgets down.

***Now, the elephant in the room….*** School Districts & Lake County Property Taxes***

We all know and agree that education is a very important part of our communities. Some will get angry at the schools for their spending. (I used to be one of them… that is until I did the research) Believe it or not, our local schools are run rather tight. The Feds say it costs about $9,000 per year to educate one student. Our local schools are accomplishing it for about 2/3rds that number, at only $6,000.

Can expenses be cut from schools? Probably, but I don’t think drastically. Possibly combining school districts to eliminate so many superintendent salaries is something that could be looked at at the state level, but this is something that on County I have no control over.

The real problem with school finances is not the schools themselves, but more specifically how the state funds them. Our neighboring states fund the schools through their income taxes, which is why their property taxes are so low. The burden of school funding in those states is shifted equally among their population, not solely on the backs of homeowners.

What Can You, The Property Tax Payer Do?

I will keep beating this drum over and over again until people start to hear me. I want to educate everyone so they can be as mad as I am and know where to complain and who to talk to and who to vote out for not doing their job.

The state MUST fix their pension problem so that they can afford to fund the schools properly…

If this can happen (and it will take time) we will finally be able to look forward to a more prosperous future in Lake County.

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