What Would Ryles Do…About Wage Increases And City Tax Levy? (Updated)


Several weeks ago we asked a simple question about Mayor Dave Schmidt’s veto of both the new ICOPS union contract and the raises for non-union, salaried City employees: “WWRD?” (09.05.12)

That question was directed to mayoral candidate Larry Ryles, who has been running a stealth-like campaign as the only announced challenger to Schmidt since he established a campaign fund and a website in September.  We offered Mr. Ryles 400-500 words to answer two questions:

“Would Ryles veto the ICOPS contract and/or the non-union employee raises?  And, if not, how would he come up with the money to pay for them?”

We were hoping to encourage Ryles – who claims to have a lot of ideas for running Park Ridge better than it has been run under Schmidt – to share some of them with the City Council and the taxpayers sooner rather than later.

But Ryles’ silence has been deafening.

Which is a curious approach, given that Ryles’ website promises that he “will take the lead on getting annual tax increases down below the annual rate of inflation or CPI” and the City is currently in the process of finalizing its 2012 property tax levy (for 2013) that Finance Director Alison Stutts and Council Finance Committee chairman Ald. Dan Knight (5th) have pared down from an anticipated 11.11% increase to the 2.15% increase that will be debated at tonight’s Council meeting.  That’s the lowest levy increase in memory.

Sadly, this will be Stutts’ curtain call as Finance Director, as she will be leaving the City at the end of December to open her own financial advisory firm.  Ironically, it also will be the first major project she has been able to manage without the inept interference of former city manager Jim Hock.  Until he was sacked in May by a unanimous vote of the Council, Hock’s penchant for facilitating the bad and impeding the good often seemed to force Stutts to choose between what’s best for the taxpayers and insubordination to Hock.

Hopefully, the newly-hired replacement for Ms. Stutts – Kent Oliven, whom Stutts helped select – will be able to fill Stutts’ figuratively “large” shoes, presumably with a distinctly lower and wider heel. 

But this proposed levy increase – which reportedly would raise the City’s property tax revenue by a total of $364,829 for the next fiscal year – provides another fine opportunity to ask the question: “What Would Ryles Do?”

That 2.15% levy increase, however, will still exceed the 1.9% increase in the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) for the first 10 months of 2012, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That doesn’t technically satisfy Ryles’ CPI-limited benchmark, so the first question we’d like to hear Ryles answer is: Does he support this 2.15% levy increase?  And if not, what planned spending would he propose the Council cut to bring the new levy in under the CPI? 

That second question becomes even more interesting when considering that Ryles is a member of the Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force which has championed the $1.1 million police station addition/renovation.  Schmidt vetoed the $290,000 first phase of that project at last Monday night’s Council meeting.  But if that $290,000 “Phase I” were deferred/cut, the levy increase could be reduced from the proposed 2.15% to almost zero – actually, an estimated 0.30% – well under Ryles’ tax levy cap.

So does Ryles support deferring/cutting Phase I of the cop shop project?  

Frankly, we suspect Ryles is just blowing smoke with his tax levy promises, and with his other campaign bluster as well.  But, once again, we’re willing to give him 400-500 words to tell the taxpayers of Park Ridge “What Would Ryles Do?” about the ICOPS and non-union salary increases; and about the tax levy increase, including the $290,000 Phase I cop shop project.

It’s time to come out of the political closet, Mr. Ryles.

UPDATE (11.27.12):  For the first time in months, Candidate Ryles was “in the house” last night for the Council’s tax levy discussion.  Unfortunately, Ryles (accompanied by one of his principal handlers, Paul Sheehan) offered nary a question nor comment.  So we still don’t know WWRD about the levy.  Or anything else.

Perhaps he’s just shy.

To read or post comments, click on title.

24 comments so far

Larry Ryles would be a fool to post anything here. You are nobody special. If you have a question, show up at the debates like everyone else. This blog is like Park Ridge’s version of MSNBC or Fox.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t care where Ryles posts, so long as he addresses the issues. Unfortunately, he seems to have been struck dumb/mute when it comes to any specifics.

Actually, we’d prefer to consider PublicWatchdog as anything BUT “Park Ridge’s version of MSNBC or FOX” – because we have nothing but derision for those high-priced, third-rate partisan vaudevillians masquerading as serious political analysts.

You say “sadly” regarding the last curtain call for Ms. Stutts, but some might say good riddens Ms. “Ebenezer Scrooge” Stutts! Maybe the mass exodus of experienced city staff will finally come to an end along with the repeated backstabbing and insubordination that brought city staff productivity and morale to an all time toxic low. All of this is costing the city dearly. What about being critical of annoucing her departure after less than 2 years on the job without sticking around to be accountable for her actions. Would this have been tolerated in the private sector?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the City were “the private sector” most of those “experienced city staff” who exited voluntarily would have been fired years ago, before they ascended to their final levels of incompetency to which they had been promoted without any objective or subjective qualifications for those jobs (e.g., the most recent H.R. director who was given that job by Hock even though she didn’t have a lick of H.R. education or experience). From everything we’ve seen, Ms. Stutts accomplished more for the taxpayers in two years than her predecessor did in her entire career with the City; and than the overpaid-and-fired city manager did in his four years on the job.

Morale is low because the city workers are finally being held accountable, and senior management who have facilitated sloppy government for so long are being shown the door. A welcome development.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly! When you’ve become accustomed to “participation trophies” and “treats” for just showing up and mediocre performance, accountability is a b*tch.

Oh, and the answer to “What Would Ryles Do?” is that he would consult with Frimark, Aldermen Smith and Paul Sheehan since they appear to be the ones pulling Ryles’ strings.

Come on dog, stop with the smoke and mirrors. Why do you give praise to the current city council for “paring” down the tax increase when they should be blamed for spending $30million plus for so called Sewer system improvements and the insane increase on water/sewer rates/fees recently passed by the aldermen? Oh let me guess, that’s not a tax increase so it doesn’t count. If he was a true champion of the working class and the fiscal conservative he claims to be why didn’t the mayor exercise his veto power for this increase, which hit residents a lot harder than the pending 2.15% tax increase will? At least residents can write off the tax increase.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We firmly believe in the soundness of the public policy behind user rates. The idea of including such variable expenses as water and sewer usage into the property tax is demented, at best – especially when water and sewer is furnished to tax-exempt entities like governmental units, religious entities, and not-for-profits.

I think this is a perfectly acceptable forum for Larry Ryles to respond. While I don’t always agree with the blog’s editor, I do appreciate that he covers the topics with more depth and thoughtfulness than our local news outlets.

Plus this seems to be the only local “place” where people actually make comments, which Mr. Ryles may, or more likely may not, appreciate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you.

113…I did not veto the increase, because outside consultants and our Finance Director calculated that we need to charge a certain amount to provide water and sewer services, including maintaining and upgrading the systems. We had to raise rates because the City of Chicago increased the cost of the water we supply to residents.

The City does not make a dime on water or sewer fees, and the revenue generated by those fees goes directly back into the Water and Sewer Funds and is used exclusively to provide those services. None of it is commingled with the City’s General (Operating) Fund.

Mayor Dave, thank you for your comment. Acting city manager Hamilton is right when he says that he’s never seen “a more transparent form of government” than the City of Park Ridge, and that occurred entirely on your watch. The city let it be known why the water and sewer rates were being raised, and the flood control project was vetted by City Staff, a private-citizen flood control task force, and a private consultant. Once again, total transparency. Keep up the good work.

Thanks B.

Huh 10:50 am,

Maybe, but it’s better than consulting with Trisna and the wack job from “CURB”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Better how?

Mayor BS,

I hate to be the accountant here, but if your so “fiscal” why not up the property tax instead and allow us to write the increase off? And BTW, this question is for Mayor BS pubdog not you. I don’t want to hear your “pay as you go” crap.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, but if you want to make the rules you’re going to need to get your own blog.

But tell us, Zippy, who will end up paying for all the water used by those water-guzzling tax-exempt entities – like Lutheran General, the Park District, the schools both religious and public – if the cost of water is charged based on the taxable assessed value of the property?

Won’t assessing the water and sewer costs as part of the property tsx a way to reward the big users/wasters at the expense of the frugal?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s the way it looks to us.

Handlers!!!! I like that!! That is the perfect word for what all you guys are!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[A]ll you guys”?

LOL, Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good point: What policies and principles DOES Paul Sheehan stand for?

Here’s a more fundamental question: Who is Paul Sheehan? Never heard of him.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The short version of the “scouting report” on him is: Hale fellow well met; Managing Partner of The Taylor Group International, a sales and sales management development firm; sales and management trainer; adjunct Professor of Sales Management at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto Canada; member, Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force; former president, Park Ridge Parks Foundation; member, Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce; and Treasurer, Ryles for Mayor.

Nevertheless, FWT, we think his principles and policies re local government are far more relevant than his resume.

10:34 pm…Property taxes are assessed based on the relative value of the property. It has nothing to do with water usage. We cannot tell the County to raise or lower someone’s property tax bill based on their consumption. And under your scenario, residents who use a little water would be footing the bill for the big users. Bad plan.

I thought this post was about Ryles and his radio silence on any and all issues. I understand he finally made it to a meeting where the police station and property taxes were discussed, but he did no more than sit there in continued silence. At some point he will have to come out and say what he is for other than being nice. That and 10 cents will get you higher taxes and a return to the Frimark Days.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Until Ryles starts actually making definitive statements in real time about real issues facing the City – unlike, for example, his straw-man “11%” 2012-13 levy increase that was proved to be almost 9% too high at last night’s Council meeting – it is impossible to even guess at what he will do and whether it will be a “return to the Frimark Days” or not. So there’s no need to speculate.

Is he even a U.S. citizen?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we understand it, he’s a Canadian.

Wow!! There is something for the Mayor to use in the campaign. Perhaps he could have Donald Trump ask for his Birth Certificate!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wow!! That sounds pretty moronic, which pretty much explains Trump’s political views.

Aha! A Canadian…………can he skate? How is his slap shot? Can he define icing, or name the original six teams in the NHL? How does he feel about the lockout? These and other questions need to be answered post-haste.

Paul Sheehan is a professional volunteer, and chaser (and instigator) of most cause celebre’ in our toney little burg. Most days I see Paul wandering the streets, walking his dog, or chatting over a latte at Starbucks. He seems to have a lot of time on his hands.

Larry Ryles seems like a nice enough guy if the info in his website is to be believed, but it’s quite the uphill battle when the encumbent has done everything he promised in his freshman term, and than some. The surplus, transparency, and general “I aint goin’ along to git along” attitude of the honorable Mayor Schmidt are enought to garner my vote, as well as the overwhelming number of townsfolk who I’ve talked with. Keep up the great work Mayor, you are truly a breath of fresh air, and most of us appreciate your hard work and thick skin.

Thanks for the suggestion 1236, but I think I will just run on my record of three straight years of General Fund surpluses after a decade of deficits, the most transparent government the citizens have ever enjoyed, increased accountability at City Hall and good progress on solving our flooding and electrical service reliability issues. Oh, and now the lowest property tax increase in memory, one which could be near zero if the Council would sustain my veto of the police facility renovation and adopt my alternative plan that would save the taxpayers over $1 million.

Sorry to sidetrack here — but any info on tonight’s Concept Plan Review for a Planned Development for the Multi-Family Residential at 446-516 North Northwest Highway? Like how many units and who this time?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Orchard Development Group, Inc., a national development concern based in Chicago, wants to put 80 apartment units (40 1-BR, 40 2-BR) into an area that we understand is zoned for 46 units, for which a map amendment in 2006 would have permitted 58 units. The president of Orchard is James L. Case.

Sounds like another attempt to put 10 lbs of potatoes in a 5 lb sack, with yet greater demands on finite infrastructure. But that’s why the City has its Planning & Zoning Commission.

OMG WTF may be a vulgarian, but not a dummy. Totally right on in his/her assessment of all mentioned. As for Mr. Ryles, he will learn, as every elected official always has, that saying nothing may get you elected but it won’t spare you the ire (no, not Eire) of half the public when you DO eventually have to make a decision. Generic statements, bromides, etc. won’t cut it. So bravo for asking, even rhetorically, what he’d do about an actual opportunity to save money by vetoing contracts and raises. Not so easy up close and personal, eh?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually, it isn’t all that difficult – as Mayor Schmidt has demonstrated – so long as you’re not obsessed with pleasing all of the people all of the time, or at least pleasing certain special interests.

As for “[g]eneric statements, bromides, etc.,” Ryles doesn’t have the market cornered on those, as can be seen from today’s online H-A report on a new candidate for 6th Ward alderman who sounds like a walking generic statement/bromide: “We have to bring people into Park Ridge…We should be able to go to nice parks, nice restaurants and nice shops (within Park Ridge).”

He and Ryles can run a “Pie in the Sky” ticket.

5:52 Really ? A vulgarian ? I love any all types of meat. Steak, burgers,jerky, venison, etc.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maybe he/she was calling you a “Bulgarian”?

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