In City Manager-Speak, Spending Plans Become “Revenue Goals”


This week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reports on the City’s proposed 2011-12 budget (“Property taxes, fees go up in proposed Park Ridge budget,” Feb. 1), which was formally presented to the City Council this past Monday night and will be the subject of a budget workshop tomorrow morning, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers.

The new budget projects revenues of $58 million and expenditures of $59.4 million.  To you math and accounting majors, that yields a projected deficit of $1.4 million – which doesn’t look or sound like a “balanced” budget to us.

But sights and sounds can be deceiving when it comes to government budgets, even those of small local governmental bodies.  

In this case, the deception comes from the fact that the projected deficit cuts across all of the City’s 15 (yes, 15!) separate funds, some of which have produced surpluses over the past few years but will be drawn down for some planned expenditures which those funds are specifically intended to finance – like the $1,910,000 to be drawn from the Sewer Fund for the planned North Park/Burton flooding remediation project. 

You can be sure there will be a lot of nip-and-tucking of budget numbers between now and when that budget is formally approved at the end of April, right before at least 5 of the 7 current aldermen walk away from The Horseshoe for their last time.  And you can also be sure that there will be more verbal and mathematical misdirection before that occurs.

For example, in the H-A article, City Manager Jim Hock is quoted as having told the Council Monday night: “We’re proposing a 5-percent property-tax increase to meet the revenue goals we have.”

That sounds to us a lot like Hock’s way of saying that he’s proposing a 5% property tax increase to meet the spending goals he has.

This new 5% property tax increase comes on the heels of last year’s 5% increase, which followed two previous years of 3% increases. In other words, the City has raised its share of our property taxes by 16% over four years, or 4% per year on average – while the Consumer Price Index was increasing less than 8% during that same period of time!

Hopefully, one of our elected representatives at tomorrow’s work shop will ask Hock to explain – publicly for the record, and in substantial detail – why our property taxes are going up at more than double the CPI rate of increase, even as the City has cut a number of services and their related expenses.  We hope someone also will ask him to state – again, publicly for the record and in substantial detail – whether he and his staff have cut every last bit of fat out of the expense side of the ledger.

Being the suspicious sort, we also will be interested to see, as this budget process develops, what expense items end up looking like they were put in by Hock as mere place-holders or bargaining chips.  Take that $1.9 million for the North Park flooding remediation, for example, which is listed as serving “70 residents,” although we assume that means 70 residences.  Whatever, that still works out to $27,000+ per residence – which sure doesn’t sound cost-effective to us,

Frankly, we had hoped Hock would have gone to his department heads and demanded – new Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle-style – that they each come up with a plan to trim their departments’ budgets by 10%.  Then we could have seen what the people who purportedly have the most knowledge about the operations of those departments think could be cut with the least adverse effects. 

But, instead, Hock took the easy way out for himself and his staff by simply proposing yet another 5% property tax hike. 

You know…in order to meet those new “revenue goals.”

To read or post comments, click on title.

21 comments so far

This… post… makes… me… want… to… puke.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not sure whether to say “Thanks,” “We’re sorry,” or “Us too.”

My property taxes (overall, not just the city’s portion) have nearly doubled in the last 10 years. When does this insanity end?

414: soon, and when people move out and no one is left to pay, especially businesses. Let it crash, and then rebuild. Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.

What makes me want to puke is these aldermen and the mayor have increased the city take through taxes and fees by more than $10 million dollars in the last four years and they still can’t manage the city books without a deficit. They’ve done that with two different city managers and many different department heads. I don’t think the problem is city staff.

Posts like 2:29 PM also make me want to puke. Especially businesses? Give me a break. I am sick of listening to the businesses complain about how much they do for everyone and whine about how much they contribute. They don’t. It is the regular residents who are the financial backbone supporting this town.

7:09, do you puke when the business you work for hands you a check twice a month? Or do you work for the government? Either way, a business is who’s paying for that check whether it’s directly, or indirectly (because businesses pay taxes which fund things like government jobs, or they pay their employees which in turn then pay all kinds of taxes, it always initiates from a business, whether it’s a one person shop or General Electric)…

Another reason to puke as 9:19 PM makes it sound as if businesses print their own money and create jobs out of thin air. Without customers, businesses wouldn’t exist. The relationship between the businesses in this town and the residents of this town is one of mutual benefit, but make no mistake about it, the residents of this town could get along without the businesses, not the other way around.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As best as we can tell, most of the “retail” businesses in Park Ridge depend extensively on local customers. On the other hand, if all of those retail businesses shut down and the properties they occupy either went dark or became residential structures, the residential taxpayers of this town would wail and gnash their teeth about the extra taxes they would have to pay to make up for that lost revenue. It’s a co-dependent relationship, folks, so get used to it.

If the business properties in town went dark the business property owners would still have to pay some property tax. If the business properties were turned into new residences, the property taxes would be about the same with the new unit values. There’s a reason the uptown had to include residents. Read the city budget and see where all the money comes from. It isn’t the businesses in town. Sales taxes are paid by customers, not the businesses. Businesses only collect the taxes. Even the bulk of the income taxes the city gets come from residents, not the businesses. The relationship between the businesses and the residents in this town is mutually beneficial but not co-dependent. The businesses should stop wailing and gnashing their teeth about how much they think they are the reason for anything in this town. They aren’t. Only the residents in this town could survive without the businesses, not the other way around. Or they wouldn’t be begging people to Shop Local!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last we checked, commercial properties in Crook County pay real estate taxes at a higher rate than residential properties. And without businesses in Park Ridge, there would be no local “customers” from whom those sales taxes could be collected.

A lot of puking going on here…did everyone get their “first installment” property tax bills from Maria Pappas?

There are too many government entities involved in setting our property taxes, allowing each one to point fingers in many other directions.

Enough is enough. City government, School districts, and Preckwinkle. Ditch the faux Maine Township level of government, too.

All of this makes me want to…well, you know.

Let’s be honest here, It is and has ALWAYS been the residents who pay the lion’s share of taxes here.

Park Ridge survived decade after decade after decade of minimal business revenue. Yet somehow maintained a working budget, maximum city services, and although the “burden was on the homeowner, there was little question you were getting what you paid for.

Then along comes the genius idea that we NEED to evolve into a business mecca to save us from our tax woes. So, now, a decade later we have increased our business base 2-3 fold (if not more) and I haven’t yet seen the relief that was
virtually guaranteed.

Here’s what we do have. More business’ retail and eateries alike, who do nothing but complain about how unfriendly the city is and how there are too many rules to follow and are constantly looking for exceptions to actually do business here, more traffic, never ending increased taxes and fees, fewer city services, and a deteriorating infrastructure.

Is this what we are supposed to get used to?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Park Ridge will never be a “business mecca” because it is not readily accessible and has shown a decided inability to attract the “destination” businesses. But hey, Walter E. Smithe wanted to put up a new store here back in 2002-03, but the City told them to wait while it was figuring out Uptown Redevelopment.


Congratulations!! You have found someone to blame and something (else) to be bitter about. Gee you are sooooooo put upon by the world!!

“Give me a break. I am sick of listening to the businesses complain about how much they do for everyone and whine about how much they contribute. They don’t. It is the regular residents who are the financial backbone supporting this town”.

Has it dawned on you that many of the “whining” business owners are citizens of Park Ridge?!?!?! They pay the same taxes that you do. These people ARE “regular residents” They are also people trying to make a go of it ,just like the rest of us, in very difficult times. The truth is that their position as a merchant/ small business is a hell of a lot more precarious than mine.

2:26 PM here’s the easy way for you to understand the unimportance of the businesses in this town. If your business doesn’t involve the sale of groceries, health, or fuel, you are a nonessential business. You should get zero subsidies or tax breaks and you should stop complaining about it. Your fees for the privilege of doing business here should be higher.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most businesses are “nonessential,” starting with one of our favorites: nail salons (sorry, ladies, but a pair of Cross clippers and some spar varnish gets you more than half-way there). As for subsidies, we don’t think so.

How did a post about the city increasing spending and taxes to afford that spending become a resident vs. business debate? We should all be taking up budget issues with city hall, not turning on each other arguing about who is more screwed by the new taxes.

4:16pm… you are quite right!

I am the Anon who was first to “puke” here and it was exactly as you said, because of the budget. Anybody take a look at what our esteemed City Manager has presented as a first pass at a 2011/12 budget. Woe is us indeed.

Tonight is the Mayor’s State of the City Address; there is likely to be some passing mention of the coming 2011/12 budget in it.
Tonight as well the council takes up the Mayor’s veto of the City Manager’s contract. I know what I think should happen and I fear that if the 7 decide to override the Mayor’s budget it will simply embolden the City Manager and his idiotic behavior.
The meeting tonight will be well worth the price of admission.

More importantly for those of you who care about the budget is this Saturday’s budget meeting. This past Saturday’s meeting was a joke and the fear would be that this Saturday will be the same. Come see how your money is planned to be spent. But don’t eat before you come… what you learn may wanna make you puke.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This past Saturday’s budget meeting a “joke”???? What kind of bitter “stakeholder” are you?

3:55, are you walking around buck-nekkid in this weather? Are you making #1 and #2 outdoors? Are you sleeping in a tree? If not, the apparel, home furnishings, residential building products (i.e. potties, kitchen cabinets, etc. and the skilled trades businesses that install them) are just a few of the essentials not on your list that are sold by retailers and small business practitioners. The issue is not who pays more taxes, it’s whether, when it’s all collected, we as taxpayers get our money’s worth in goods and services. If we don’t feel the deal was good with a business, we can vote our dollars to another competitor — but what if we don’t like the deal we get from the City and other such bodies? Elected officials don’t or won’t hold well-paid managers feet to the fire, so we get poor value for dollar all down the line with few exceptions. Anybody enraged that Maine Frickin’ South was one of two food establishments that FAILED their City health inspection for food prep? You can avoid the egg joint that was the other failure, but whether or not you have kids, you have to keep on paying 207’s mega-taxes, fees, rates, etc. Whaddaya wanna bet they will say they had to outsource the food service to some semi-legal below-min.-wage operation to save costs — for what? You don’t have to ask. You know for what.


Great idea!! I have another idea. Let’s all do our part. Let’s all take a look at who we work for. I have to believe I am not the only one in town sucking at the large corporate nipple. So let’s all take a look at what our employers pay in taxes. Go down the list of 100 largest companies in Chicago or those we enticed to move here (like Boeing). Do you think they pay anywhere near their tax rate??? By the way, let’s all provide our tax returns from last year. What is sooooo damn funny is we all bitch about taxes but I will bet that most of the people in PR (me included) do not pay their “fair share” thanks to loopholes. So march in to CFO and or CEO and demand your company pay our fair share. In fact they should pay extra just for the privilage of being here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ah, yes…let’s take what should be a reasonably-solvable City taxing/spending problem and blow it up into an intractable national tax policy problem.

If you don’t think Boeing, et al. are paying enough in taxes, you should be talking to your state county, state and/or federal legislators who have cut Boing, et al. these “loopholes,” not the beneficiaries of what your elected representatives have given them.


As a quick follow up, let’s also all stop watching the Bears. They are a living breathing example of socialism. The public funded north of 60% (65% I believe) of the new stadium so give back those tickets and turn off that TV!!!!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: YOUR elected representatives gave the Bears whatever welfare they are receiving, so once again the buck stops with them – just like it stops with State Sen. Dan Kotowski and each and every other Democrat state senator who provided the deciding vote on the recent Illinois state income tax increase (our State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan was MIA, but hers wasn’t the deciding vote).

The flood project, that you refer to at North Park, is going to be discussed tomorrow at City Hall with both the elected City officials and the elected Park District officials at 7:30pm.

There are a slew of issues that many of the residents are going to bring to discussion tomorrow for which none of the elected officials have answers to.

Example, this benefits Niles residents, how much is Niles contributing?

Water retention in parks have historically decreased the property value of those homes near the parks (3% to 10%). Is the City going to reimbuse residents that live next to the park?

What about insects, specifically mosquitos, what is the plan for standing water?

This proposal may be blocked, and probably should be blocked; not only because of the city deficit, but because it is not a well thought out solution to the flooding problem.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have already questioned spending that much money on a “solution” that benefits so few Park Ridge residences/residents, irrespective of the deficit. But we also question your assertion that: “Water retention in parks have historically decreased the property value of those homes near the parks (3% to 10%).”

That sounds like total bunkum, but if you have a source (besides “Some realtor told me”) we sure would like to hear it.

We should all be outraged at the new budget and the thought of raising our taxes yet again. I have no faith or trust in the current city council being able to tell Mr. Hock to start over and come back with a 5% CUT in spending from last year. The guy is clueless. I attended most of the budget meetings last year and it was, at best, a book report from each department on what they did on summer vacation (i.e. what services they provide). There is almost no effort to cut spending since the City Manager solves his spending habits by raising taxes. The easy way out is over!

I recently checked how much property taxes I would pay for a similar sized home in Scottsdale and the answer is truly amazing. I would pay about 1/4 what I pay here in Park Ridge. I will not be the first to move outside Illinois when the last kid graduates from high school. The Illinois surburban flight has begun!

EDITOR’S NOTE: These problems are of, collectively, our own making because we elect these spendthrifts (the current Council, for example), who hire and overpay more spendthrifts (like Hock, for example) – and then build in impediments for the incoming aldermen to get rid of him in the form of his ridiculous $117,000-and-counting severance guaranty.

We’d be willing to make a modest wager that not more than 1% of Park Ridge residents currently have both compensation/benefits as good or better than Hock’s AND a severance package as good or better than Hock’s. That’s a cruel joke that Allegretti, Bach, Carey, DiPietro, Ryan, Sweeney and Wsol have played on the taxpayers, and the only one of them who can even be held accountable at the voting booth in April is Sweeney.

Hock’s two greatest accomplishments have been getting his original contract and now getting his newest one. By the time this latest one runs out, Hock will have picked our pockets for a million bucks while managing our city into at least 3 years worth of deficits (if he doesn’t have any more until his current contract expires) costing us several million more.


Taxes are less in Scottsdale?!?!!? Gee whiz, how long has it been this way??? Try FOREVER!!!

Of course the Arizona state budget is not great shakes at the moment and the people of Arizona just recently voted to raise their own sales tax.

Actually they could probably balance the budget by increasing the fee on gun carry permits.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


(optional and not displayed)