Waltmire’s Plan to Cut the Size of the County Board Featured

On Thursday, the Northwest Herald ran an article that featured my plan to cut the size of the board and save taxpayers $240,000.  From Thursday’s article…

arne-waltmire-cut-the-board-quoe-nwh-09-29-16[F]or Waltmire, a teacher at Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155, [cutting the size of the McHenry County Board] is a key to driving down costs. Voters will be asked an advisory question as to whether the board’s size should be reduced from its current number of 24 after the 2020 U.S. census.

Waltmire was the third candidate slated by the Democratic Party for the race – it caucused him in to replace Patrick Arnold, who withdrew a month after the party caucused him in to replace Andy Breen, who withdrew in July.

“I strongly support cutting the size of the County Board,” Waltmire said. “It is a way to save taxpayers money without cutting vital county services. Cook County’s population is 10 times that of McHenry’s, and yet they have less members on their board.”

Waltmire supports cutting the board by 25 percent, or one per district, while Rosenberg supports halving it and creating a 12-member board of single-member districts. Bates said more work is needed before a number can be determined, and Wilcox said he would favor any reduction that did not result in full-time legislators or too much power being concentrated into too few hands.

Candidates had differing opinions over permanently eliminating the levy for Valley Hi Nursing Home, which because of good fiscal management combined with the levy has amassed a budget surplus that can fund years of operations. The County Board eliminated the levy for one year, but doing it a second year would permanently eliminate it under state law, unless voters approve another levy by referendum.

Wilcox supports eliminating the levy, and Bates supports either eliminating or “greatly reducing” it. Waltmire said the levy should be reduced and the surplus spent down to a reasonable amount to maintain a sensible cushion.

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Jobs Proposal Moves Forward

I urged the board to support this proposal for a new I-90 interchange at Marengo and I’m glad they did.  It will be a great boost to businesses and jobs in McHenry County.

From today’s Northwest Herald…

Job Growth, Unemployment Rate Both Drop In SeptemberA plan that could trigger more than $1 billion in economic impact to McHenry County moved a step forward Tuesday.

McHenry County Board members on Tuesday adopted a measure giving the OK on resolutions related to the funding of a $32 million Interstate 90 and Route 23 interchange project, which proponents say will create an economic windfall for the county and city of Marengo. The project will be a partnership between the county, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

A study in June showed that the plan could generate between $538 million to more than $1.7 billion in economic impact to the area, although some board members are concerned it won’t be as successful as hoped.

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New State Law Ends County Board Pensions

I wholeheartedly support this new law.  County Board members should NOT get full-time benefits for part-time work.  If elected, I will not take health insurance from the county for the same reason.  I will fight to eliminate perks like health insurance and milage reimbursements for county board meetings.

From today’s Northwest Herald article…

Elected county board members statewide are no longer eligible for pensions under a law signed Friday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Senate Bill 2701, which took effect with Rauner’s signature Friday, disqualifies future candidates elected to county boards from participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Existing board members already enrolled — the Illinois Constitution forbids altering their benefits — must fill out time sheets to prove they are working the minimum hours required, either 600 or 1,000 hours a year, to qualify.

The bill was spearheaded by Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, who earlier this year touched off a political firestorm when he asked the IMRF to investigate whether McHenry County Board members, all but a few of whom are now enrolled, are working the 1,000 hours a year to qualify for pensions.

Franks, D-Marengo, said he is happy that a stop will be put to what he called “insiders gaming the system at taxpayers’ expense.”

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Arne Waltmire Answers Call to Run for County Board

The Democratic District 4 committeemen met and slated in Arne Waltmire to run for McHenry County Board District 4. Arne is replacing Pat Arnold who withdrew from the race.

Arne Waltmire is a high school Industrial Technology Teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience. He is running to save taxpayers’ dollars by cutting the size of the board.  Arne also sees a strong need to attract jobs to McHenry County thru economic development. By changing the time of all board meetings to be held in the evening, County Board meetings would be open to working people. Everyone’s knowledge of what is happening on county issues are valuable.  Arne also wants to insure that the board follows the law by not violating IL Open Meeting Act.

Learn more about Arne by visiting www.arnewaltmire.com/about.

 

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McHenry County Board Pays $25,000 to Settle Open Meetings Act Violation Lawsuit

Person dumping money into a toilet bowlThe County Board violated the law by violating the Open Meeting Act. That was an inexcusable action that cost me and my fellow taxpayers $25,000. McHenry County families have the legal right to to see the board conduct its business in public meetings. I will fight to take transparency a step further by having all board meetings held at night so that working people can participate in their democracy.

From a April 21, 2015 Northwest Herald article…

The McHenry County Board on Tuesday pulled its symbolic support of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s effort to turn Illinois around in order to settle a lawsuit prompted by the board’s support of the governor’s agenda.

The County Board’s 18-4 vote rescinded its nonbinding 2015 resolution backing Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” in exchange for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 dropping its lawsuit alleging board members who met with Rauner before the vote violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

Although the County Board admitted no wrongdoing in the resolution, the settlement includes paying $25,000 to cover Local 150’s legal fees.

The union represents county government building maintenance workers and McHenry County Division of Transportation drivers. Local 150 issued a statement after the vote calling the effort to get McHenry County to support Rauner’s agenda an “abject failure.”

“The people of McHenry County will never know what their elected board members said in that closed meeting, but today they rid themselves of Gov. Rauner’s anti-worker, anti-middle class political agenda,” said Local 150 president-business manager James Sweeney.

Related: McHenry County Board Violates the Open Meetings Act

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McHenry County Board Violates the Open Meetings Act

breaking-the-lawThe night before the McHenry County Board was set to vote on a resolution, eight board members met privately to discuss that resolution.  They did not properly notify the public and turned members of the public away from the meeting, a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

From an April Northwest Herald article…

A local labor union says McHenry County Board members violated the Open Meetings Act when they met privately with the governor, then later publicly supported his “Turnaround Agenda.”

In a lawsuit filed late last week, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is asking that the county board’s support for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s overhaul of labor laws be declared null and void.

Rauner presented proposed changes to the state’s labor laws at an event in Woodstock on April 8 as part of a statewide tour asking municipalities to support the overhaul.

In attendance were eight county board members, who the next day approved a largely symbolic resolution supporting the governor’s proposal. The event also was attended by members of the media, including the Northwest Herald and other municipal leaders.

Rauner wants local governments to enact right-to-work laws by referendum and eliminate prevailing wage laws and other unfunded mandates. Critics of his “Turnaround Agenda” say its a union-busting measure that will hurt middle-class families.

The county board members who attended – Chairman Joe Gottemoller, Tina Hill, Yvonne Barnes, James Heisler, Nick Provenzano, Charles Wheeler, Michele Aavang and Larry Smith – constituted a majority of a quorum, and therefore violated the Open Meetings Act because the public wasn’t properly notified of the meeting in advance, the lawsuit states. Furthermore, union members who attended were turned away by uniformed police officers, according to the union.

There are 24 members of the McHenry County Board; 13 members constitute a quorum, and seven make up a majority of a quorum.

The day after Rauner’s visit, the County Board passed a largely symbolic, nonbinding resolution in support of the “Turnaround Agenda.” It passed on 16-5 vote, over the objections of union members. Of those who attended the meeting with Rauner, all but Hill approved the resolution.

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Do McHenry County Board members work enough to earn state pensions?

From a February Northwest Herald article…

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund is questioning whether McHenry County Board members are working enough hours to justify pensions after they leave office, the Northwest Herald has learned.

And a state representative known for tussling with the County Board over various issues in recent years plans to ask that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate.

Under state law, McHenry County government employees must work at least 1,000 hours a year – or about 20 hours a week for 50 weeks – to qualify for IMRF benefits. The County Board in 1997 set a higher standard for its employees – the law otherwise sets a 600-hour annual minimum.

But an audit conducted last year by IMRF cast doubt on whether most board members are meeting the threshold, IMRF Director Louis Kosiba said.

Kosiba, who along with state Rep. Jack Franks asked to meet with the newspaper’s editors, pointed to a line from the IMRF’s own manual to back his assertion. Barring “highly unusual circumstances,” officials elected to county, village, township or municipal boards will not qualify for IMRF under the 1,000-hour threshold.

“What I would like to do is make sure the county is made whole. If any of these County Board members do put in that 1,000 hours, it’s not my issue. For me, it’s a good-government issue,” said Kosiba, who has led IMRF since 2001.

Franks, D-Marengo, said he intends in the next several days to ask State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi to petition the court for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate. The state’s attorney’s office cannot investigate the County Board because it also acts as the board’s legal counsel, Franks said.

“If they haven’t made these hours, they need to be removed from the pension system, and the money needs to be paid back,” Franks said.

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Incredibly Grateful and Proud

1-thank-you-signUnfortunately, we did not enjoy the success in the election we were hoping for on Tuesday night, but I am incredibly grateful and proud of the effort we put forward.

I am grateful to you who generously gave your time and treasure to this campaign. We worked extremely hard and put forth an extraordinary fight.

Our work – particularly our call to cut the size of the board while also protecting vital services – was not made in vain. Our issues struck a chord with Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. We helped galvanize the grassroots here in McHenry County and I intend to keep up the fight for our citizens. I hope you do as well.

I congratulate John Hammerand and Charles Wheeler in their victory.

Thank you again for your incredible support.

Best,

Arne

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It’s Election Day & Voting Has Never Been Easier!

EveryVoteCountsToday, Tuesday November 4th, is Election Day!

CLICK HERE to get all the details on voting this election.

Voting in McHenry County has never been easier. Not yet registered? Not a problem. New state rules allow people to register and vote even on Election Day. Don’t know where to vote? Don’t fret, we got you covered All the information is at you finger tips.

CLICK HERE to get all the details on voting this election.

Don’t hesitate to call me at 815-385-7259 with any questions.

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Sign the Petition at Save McHenry Money.Org

1_-_Save-Money-1_(med2)I started a website -  SaveMcHenryMoney.org – to raise awareness as to how we, the citizens of McHenry County, can save taxpayers money through downsizing the county board. Visit SaveMcHenryMoney.org today to sign the petition.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE MCHENRY TAXPAYERS $300,000

JOIN ME IN SENDING A MESSAGE TO CAREER POLITICIANS: SPEND LESS ON POLITICIANS’ SALARIES

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