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Township Consolidation Savings: Two Very Different Stories. Who's Right?

The Naperville political establishment has clearly staked out a position they believe is a political winner: Consolidating the Naperville Township Road District. Look at the activity: A group called The Naperville/Aurora Residents for Lower Taxes; a PAC founded by a candidate for Naperville City Council to “support lower taxes”; favorable articles in the local press; and two non-binding referendums worded in a manner that are practically guaranteed to receive over 90% approval.


Our thoughts on the City of Naperville politicians who raised taxes over $11.5 million less than a year ago now running a campaign based upon ‘lower taxes’ to be achieved in a jurisdiction they were not elected to or running in haven’t changed. Just to reiterate, these are city of Naperville elected officials (and a City Council candidate) campaigning to reduce taxes by consolidating the Naperville Township Road District into the City of Naperville. After they raise taxes here, they claim to be able to cut them somewhere else. The savings which were once estimated at $700,000 are now estimated to be approximately $800,000, according to the City of Naperville.


The next couple of paragraphs have a few numbers and may make your eyes gloss over. Please bear with us, as they help frame the discussion of the scope and size of the so-called Lower Taxes movement, if their numbers are to be believed.


In 2010, the date of the most recent census, Naperville Township had 100,019 people and 39,999 housing units, distributed as follows:

  • Aurora, 47,604 people, 17,640 housing units

  • Naperville 48,086 people, 20,687 housing units

  • Warrenville 345 people, 124 housing units

  • Remainder 3,984 people, 1,728 housing units

http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk


The estimated savings for each of those units, if the City of Naperville’s numbers are to be believed: About $20 each ($800,000/39,999 units). Approximately 52% (20,687/39,999) of which, or approximately $416,000, would go to residents of Naperville, while 48% would go to non-Naperville residents.


The population of Naperville in the 2010 census was 141,853 people, 52,270 units.http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/1751622


(The population and housing unit numbers have changed since then, but not enough to substantively alter the discussion, and results from the full census provide the most comparable basis for comparison. In addition, we recognize that housing units include apartments, so the actual numbers will vary modestly from those used here, but the substance of what is presented here does not. )


So 34% of the population (48,086/141853) of the City of Naperville and just under 40% (20,687/52,270) of the housing units in the City of Naperville are in Naperville Township. Meaning this campaign by Naperville elected officials for ‘lower taxes’ will not affect 66% of the people and 60% of the housing units in the City they were elected to represent. That other 60% was, however, affected by the $11.5 million in higher taxes effective January 1, 2016. So the savings to the 40% of the City of Naperville households would offset less than two months of the increased garbage collection fees, while the other 60% of Naperville residents won’t even get that.


Again, that's assuming their numbers are correct, which a reasonable person can question. Assuming their numbers are correct, that is the 'best case scenario,' approximately $20 to 40% of Naperville households.


The relatively small savings to a minority of the City’s residents can reasonably lead someone to question why people elected to represent the citizens of Naperville would spend so much time and effort on this if the sole purpose of their efforts was to economically benefit the residents, even if the estimated savings amount was correct. We see this effort as a blatant political move to position those driving it as tax-cutting crusaders.


We’re not in a position to know where the truth is on the estimated savings. City staff generated the estimate of $800,000. City Staff reports to Doug Krieger, who submitted leasing instead of purchasing equipment as 2016 budget ‘savings’ . That was done as part of $1.8 million in “spending reductions,” but would actually increase the overall costs of the purchases to the taxpayers. City staff reporting to Krieger also are alleged to have knowingly charged residents for garbage collection not being provided , resulting in a class action lawsuit by residents against the City. Based upon that and other less than honest dealings like Bauer Place, we not only understand but recommend a healthy dose of skepticism of statements made by City officials.


The enclosed estimate of $800,000 savings was presented at a discussion at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce forum on this topic on October 10th. (City of Naperville re IGA.pdf) Township officials dispute those numbers, presenting in the enclosed handout that no money will be saved (Naperville Township re IGA.pdf). The Township claims the City has never addressed the details of their argument, but has taken a 'global, big picture' approach of achieving savings through ‘economies of scale’ and similar arguments.


So who’s to be believed? The only outside party which we are aware of having reviewed the projected savings is Mr. Greg Higgins, who spoke at the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation forum regarding this topic on September 19th. Mr. Higgins spent his career at the international consulting firms of Deloitte (20 years, including partner) and Duff and Phelps (over 12 years, including as Global Business Leader of Dispute and Legal Management Consulting.)


Mr. Higgins called into question many of the assumptions and offered to meet with City officials, to point out the issues and questionable assumptions. Councilman Coyne refused Mr' Higgins' offer.


Why would the City not want to sit down, discuss and analyze the numbers? People are being asked to vote on something which could be factually incorrect? There is a referendum on the ballot, and the proponents of the referendum aren’t willing to sit down and show why their numbers are right?


If in fact there are savings to be obtained, prove it, remove any question or doubt and move on.


Maybe even move on to conducting City business for all of Naperville, including the other 60% that wouldn’t reap the $20 windfall from their efforts. In other words, do what they were elected to do.


Four seats are up for election on April 4, 2017: Councilmen Coyne, Gallaher and Krummen, and Councilwoman Brodhead.


Isn’t it time to replace them with someone independent (which excludes Michael Issac) who will listen to the residents instead of this Mayor?




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