The above picture is not a tire that was illegally dumped, but is my tire which was destroyed by a pot hole on Hance Drive in the City of Freeport. The Street Department has time to take down houses and to clean up illegal dumps on the East side of Freeport, but cannot do its basic function – the maintenance of the streets in this community. Unfortunately, the terrible condition of Hance Drive is not atypical of the streets in this community. Years of total neglect have taken a toll, and many are beyond repair. The residents of this community do not seem to care, or have just given up. Let’s get a street department that will at least attempt to do its job and today – not tomorrow. Action should be taken immediately to correct the situation, but of course, that is wishful thinking. The do-nothing policy of the street department and this City has been going on for years, so why would we expect action now!
The Freeport City Council will meet tonight at 6:00 p.m. in its new palatial chambers at 314 W. Stephenson Street. Some items of interest on the agenda:
Letter from the City Engineer, Shaun M. Gallagher, notifying the City that water and sewer rates will increase 4.1% on May 1. The increase is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers using the “Water and Sewerage Maintenance” index, and the rate will automatically increase each year based on this index. Wow, over four per cent for one year. Social Security recipients received a .1% increase in January. I guess that means water and sewer expenses increased at a rate 41 times the rate of inflation for individuals in the City of Freeport! Those bureaucrats really know how to spend our money. By the way the Council does not need to approve this increase – it is automatic. This reminds me of what is going on in Springfield!
Resolution authorizing the leasing of the old West Avenue fire station on a monthly basis for $800.00 per month. Also, the City gives the lessee an option to purchase to the property. Lease not worth commenting on!
Resolution to Ratify Collective Bargaining Agreement with The International Association of Firefighters.
The Freeport, Illinois City Council will meet tonight at 6:00 p.m. in its new chambers at 314 W. Stephenson Street (the old library building). It looks like a busy night for the Council which will consider water and sewer rate increases to fund rebuilding the water and sewer system Higher water and sewer rates coupled with rising real estate tax rates and unrealistic property tax assessments (recently endorsed by the electorate) make for great economic growth.
Go to the full agenda at http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/citygovernment/Agendas/A20170306.pdf
I am tired of seeing ads and letters promoting a present employee of the Freeport Assessor’s Office, and referring to this person’s experience in that office. The present Assessor’s policies have single handedly contributed to the poor economic climate and lack of growth in the City of Freeport. Why build a new house or start a new business by building in Freeport when you know you will have to fight every year with the Freeport Assessor about unreasonable assessments placed on your property. For many of us the damage is already done. It is too late. Many have left Freeport due to the unreasonable assessments coupled with the high tax rates. A vote for Meta Ridgeway is a vote to continue the City of Freeport down a path of economic ruin. The present Freeport Assessor’s Office must be cleaned out which means new employees and new attitudes. The citizens of Freeport only want fairness in the assessment process, and this will only happen if Brad Hartog is elected Freeport Assessor.
Alex Mills, Community Development Director, will present an ordinance dealing with tarps, brush piles, and semi-trailers. Terrific Mr. Mills! You are the typical bureaucrat. Propose more laws to justify your existence while not enforcing the laws on the books. On December 12, 2016, I pointed out an obvious ordinance violation on Woodside Drive where fence posts have been placed along the edge of the road. What has been done? Absolutely nothing! When you will not enforce existing ordinances, why pass any more ordinances? Why must someone be injured or killed as result of these fence posts before anything is done?
Another interesting item on the Council agenda is a discussion of the proposed water and sewer rates. Freeport home owners should read this over, and they better be prepared to pay over $100 per month soon for water and sewer! See Freeport home owners are used to high real estate taxes. They better get used to high utility rates!
Some of you may wish to look at the complete agenda.
In the Quarterly Report filed with the State Board of Elections by the “Vote Yes for Freeport” group one of the contributions to this group stands out. A Washington, DC lobbying group, International City/County Management Association contributed $7,500 to the “Vote Yes” group. It’s hard to believe this Association cares about what is best for Freeport. A better name for this Association would be “Association for Full Employment of City Managers.” The “Vote Yes” group should disclose the fact that almost half of its funding is from an outside lobbying group. As I have stated before, maybe the time has come for a city manager in Freeport, but I don’t like being told by a Washington, DC lobbying group that I should vote “Yes.”
The Freeport Public Library conducts a “community read” program during January and February of “odd” years. The program started in 2011, and 2017 will be the fourth time for the program. The mission of this program is to encourage a shared-reading experience, foster a sense of community, and promote literacy to people of all ethnic backgrounds, economic levels, and ages. Based on similar programs in communities across the country, One Book, One Freeport provides free copies of a selected book and coordinates educational programs and events to explore topics related to the book. Plans are to tie the book in with the current 100-year anniversary of the National Parks.
The book title will be announced in early January of 2017. Books will be distributed in February with programs scheduled in March and April. Donations for the program can be sent to One Book, One Freeport Committee, Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St., Freeport, IL 61032.
Every resident of the City of Freeport, Illinois should take a look at the “2015-2016 Total Compensation Report for City Employees over $75,000.” If you read this report, it will give you an idea of the cost each additional employee hired by the City. Of course, it does not factor in the future pension costs that will be incurred by the City to support many of these employees such as those of the police department who retire after 20 years and move to Florida. How many officers in the police department make over $125,000 – count them? Almost half the officers on the Freeport police department make over $125,000. If you think the Mayor is the highest paid official, you are wrong. The police chief is the highest paid at almost $167,000, and he does not even live in Freeport. Of course, this is true of many other highly compensated employees of the City who do not live in Freeport. When you do not live here, or plan on leaving after 20 years, you have no stake in the future of the community.
Read the full report at http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/departments/FY2016%20compensation%20report-FINAL.pdf
If you want to hear more about City employee compensation, go to the Freeport City Council meeting on Monday October 3 at 6:00 pm at the temporary City Hall at 524 W. Stephenson Street, 3rd Floor, or watch it live on Comcast Channel 17. The complete meeting agenda is available at http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/citygovernment/Agendas/A20161003.pdf
In the Freeport Journal Standard on August 25, 2016 there was the August edition of the Freeport Area Chamber Communicator. On page 3 there was an article entitled “Vote YES for Freeport to Adopt the Managerial Form of Municipal Government.” The article stated that the committee promoting the change to a managerial form of city government had retained legal counsel from a Rockford law firm, and the writer of the article even added how impressed the committee was with this attorney, and that the committee was in good hands. To those attorneys who are members of the Freeport Chamber, it appears that none of you have the necessary skills to represent this elite body. And to the taxpayers of Freeport, ask yourself if this law firm pays real estate taxes in Freeport, and ask yourself if the members of this firm live in Freeport. No wonder this attorney from Rockford is promoting the change since she will not be paying for it.
NOTE: Our firm does not do municipal work. We handle estate planning, estate and trust administration and litigation, elder law, and agricultural real estate. However, there are outstanding attorneys in Freeport who could handle this issue, and who are probably members of the Chamber! I guess they mean Freeport first, only sometimes!
Pretzel City Brewfest will take place Saturday September 24th on the corner of Chicago and Douglas (across the street from the Freeport Public Library) and next to the post office.
VIP Admission will open at noon with General Admission opening at 1 pm. The event will last until 5:30 p.m.
For details and tickets go to http://www.freeportdowntown.com/pretzel-city-brewfest/
At the Freeport, Illinois, City Council Meeting on September 19, 2016, the Council approved the City Engineer’s use of City equipment for construction purposes for the Forrestville Valley School District. Of course, the City Engineer said the School District would reimburse the City for the equipment use. The precedent has been set for City employees to use City equipment in off duty hours as long as they pay rent for the equipment! Alderpersons Chesney and Miller voted against renting out City equipment and employees, but the rest of the alderpersons had no problem with this new policy. I guess this means that our taxes will be lowered in Freeport as a result of all this new rental income. Perhaps, Freeport can teach the State of Illinois a lesson. The state can rent out equipment, employees, and buildings to reduce the deficit. With all of that new income, the State will actually be able to lower taxes.