Wednesday, July 6, 2011

County Board To Examine Assessments

Tuesday's meeting of the McHenry County Board involved a quotidian agenda of grant acceptances and obscure commission appointments but the one in two weeks holds promise of controversy when Members hope to start finding out how the County's assessment mess happened.

A request for the County Housing Commission to pass along some federal money to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter for the non-sweat equity part of a house for a disabled vet set off a half-hearted debate.  The question was  whether it made any sense to build a new house with all the empty ones sitting around.  The measure passed since in McHenry County there isn't really a way to use the money to rehab an existing house even if the Board wanted to.

County Administrator Pete Austin reported the County's budget is more or less on track with six months of the year gone now except for fines and fees at the Circuit Clerk's office.  It's not clear yet, he said, if the downturn there's because of fewer cases being filed or more people hoping if they ignore a fine it'll go away.

LITH's Jim Kennedy, knocked off the County Board in the general election last year, is sort of back in County government, again, anyway.  Members Tuesday appointed him to a two-year term on the County nursing home operating board.

As the meeting wound down it was District 3's Barb Wheeler, Crystal Lake, who finally opened a two month-old can of worms asking if anyone could explain the Grafton assessments controversy and what it means for everybody else in the County.

Austin extemporized a simple visual analogy for the general effect: "It's kind of like a balloon," he said.  "If you push it down in one place it goes up elsewhere."

District 5's Paula Yensen, LITH, said she was happy her own assessment had gone down but had already looked into the matter since a lot of other folks' went up.  "(McHenry County Assessor Bob Ross said) what the Grafton Assessor had done was 'highly unusual', his exact words," she said.

There was a rough consensus the Board at least ought to hear what Ross has to say and maybe, Grafton Assessor Bill Ottley, too.  The next Board meeting's July 19.

In the pic: County Administrator Pete Austin said even though fuel costs are way ahead of expectations, this year's budget's still OK since Finance chief Ralph Sarbaugh (rear) found some extra money left over in an inside pocket of last year's budget.

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