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Morning shorts

Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008

* Economic crisis hits IMRF, tax increases might be needed

Illinois taxpayers may soon be called on to bail out what is arguably the best-funded public pension plan in the state thanks to $3.6 billion in fund losses caused by the spiraling economy.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund covers about 177,000 active employees of local governments and about 85,000 retirees. The good news for them is their retirement benefits are guaranteed no matter what the economy does.

* If Pontiac prison closes, what happens to state’s death row?

Illinois’ most notorious criminals will soon have a new home if state prison officials carry out their plan to close Pontiac Correctional Center.

Fifteen inmates on Illinois’ death row will be shipped west to the state’s mostly unused prison in Thomson in January, marking the first time the state’s condemned unit has not been in Pontiac in decades.

The prison in Thomson, which was built in 2002 but never fully opened because of budget constraints, is ready to accept the prisoners, said Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Januari Smith.

* Prison to become max security facility

In a surprise move, the small Lawrence County town of Sumner is poised to become home to the state’s newest maximum-security prison.

* Students: U of I brass should freeze pay

* Budget Watchdog: CTA Fare Hike ‘Necessary and Appropriate’

A budget watchdog group has come out in support of the Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed fare hike. The Civic Federation says the 25-50-cent increases are necessary to offset fuel costs, and to pay for free rides mandated by the state.

* TIF districts ripped as ‘government gone wild’

Nearly $900 million in property tax money was siphoned off into Cook County tax increment finance districts in 2007 — 11.5 percent more revenue than the previous year, according to a report produced by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

If TIF funds were collected as a separate taxing district, it would take in the second largest amount of property tax revenue in the county after the Chicago Public Schools, which gets $1.9 billion a year.

* Study says special taxing districts costing Chicago coffers $555 million

Chicago property tax revenue diverted from schools, parks, day-to-day city expenses and other local government operations to city development projects increased by about $55 million in 2007 to $555 million, an 11 percent jump from the previous year, according to a report released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Some critics of tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, say they are partly responsible for the city’s current budget shortfall, pegged at $469 million. To address the gap, Mayor Richard Daley has proposed layoffs and increased fees and taxes for 2009.

* Hump daze: Speed bumps ripped out after 4 months for repaving

Pat Burke said he feels like his tax dollars are being “flushed down the toilet.”

How else to explain the city’s decision to install speed humps in June on a two-block stretch of North Paulina, only to tear them out this month, now that the street is being resurfaced?

* Motorola to switch to Google’s Android system, as layoffs loom

Motorola is reportedly preparing a new round of layoffs and changing its cell-phone software platform to Google Inc.’s Android operating system for its mid-tier and multimedia phones, according to unnamed sources in Wednesday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal.

The Schaumburg-based cell-phone giant has laid off 10,000 since early 2007.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning        

7 Comments
  1. - Bill - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 9:54 am:

    Hey! Who put these stupid morning shorts on top of the wonderfully written and informative, public service announcement that was first?


  2. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 10:04 am:

    Hey Bill,

    See if you can get your boy Rod to come out against a Con Con as well. That way it’ll have a much better chance of passing :)


  3. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 10:11 am:

    Well, predictably, many of these topics involve chickens coming home to roost– highly inadequate management of state and local tax monies by elected officials and, predictably, it’s not those officials, most of them well off, who will suffer. Time to hit up the middle class again. When will we learn to say no, I wonder. Especially to those crazy TIF’s, which provide huge windfalls to the private sector at the expense of local public facilities—the ones average citizens must use. And huge campaign contributions….but that’s another topic.


  4. - Kevin Fanning - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Lol anon


  5. - Leroy - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 1:04 pm:

    >When will we learn to say no, I wonder.

    You learn to say no when you sell your property and move out of state.


  6. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 1:55 pm:

    FYI, CalPers (State of California Pension System) is out a whole lot more, Try $70 Billion,

    Who are these politically connected Pension Fund Managers — and who got the commissions for bringing them to the table.

    Huge open ended scandal coming.


  7. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Oct 29, 08 @ 2:26 pm:

    TIF Comment –

    TIF reports are made annually on all Districts and filed six months or less before the end of the Fiscal Year with the State Comptroller. They are straight forward. and simple and copies can be gotten.

    Danny Hynes changed the formatting Paper copies only are submitted. It used to be that they were sent in on a disc and entered into the Comptroller’s computer. Then they could be summed, evaluated, etc. Now it takes a lot of man hours to evaluate them.

    No entity receives less money because of a TIF. The tax levy is placed against the frozen valuation (not including the incremental valuation occurring because of the TIF) to determine the tax rate. The tax rate times the incremental valuation goes to the District to be used for purposes permitted by State law.

    As I have said before, when the Tif District was just a frog sitting on a lily pad in the marsh, nobody wanted to kiss it. When the incremental revenues turned the frog into a handsome prince, all the young ladies wanted a piece of the action. The problem usually is that the cost of the magical transformation had to be paid.

    THey


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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