Thursday, January 25, 2007

Right Idea, Wrong Solution, Still Beggin' The Question

The DuPage Water Commission is receiving suggestions on how to expend the $100 million surplus. The City Council of Naperville recently voted to have the Commission rebate some $40 million to municipalities. The concept, as I read it, is to give the money back to the taxpayer. Giving the money back to the taxpayer, I am on board. As in my previous post on the subject, I still have concerns.

  1. The newspaper articles have not laid out how taxpayers who do not receive lake water will receive their fair share. If it is given back by rate cuts to lake water users only, it is essentially a subsidy to the users taken from those not hooked up to lake water.
  2. The 1/4% sales tax on all of DuPage was to fund the Commission and its work to bring lake water to DuPage. Again, it seems unfair to me if my daughter buys a $10.00 toy, that she has to pay 2 1/2 cents extra for some guy to over-water his lawn. Just to be clear, providing clean drinking water to the public is a government responsibility and is an appropriate reason for a tax. Forcing other people to pay for the water someone else wants to use... not so much.
  3. Getting back to over-watering the lawn, in light of the predicted water shortage in the western suburbs, a reduction in water rates is a bad idea to refund the money. It is not an equitable distribution of the money. It rewards large volume water users, provides an incentive to waste water, but does not provide incentive or reward to the person that conserves water. If we insist on returning the money by way of the water bill, a one-time reduction of x amount in the bill would make more sense. Everyone would receive the same amount. This doesn't really reward the person conserving water, but it does eliminate the incentives to waste water beyond the incentive provided by a one-time windfall of cash.
  4. If we are expecting a water shortage, wouldn't it be wiser to increase the regional fresh water capacity with some of the money?
  5. Since the Commission was able to send the $75 million to DuPage County and still amass a significant surplus in recent years, I still come to what I previously wrote: All of this begs the question "Do we still need a sales tax if we are constantly building significant surpluses?" Perhaps we should discontinue the tax until we need the money for developing water supply infrastructure.

Naperville City Councilman Dick Furstenau was quoted, "We need to make sure that we keep that commission as fiscally responsible as they possibly can be." Indeed! Not only by returning the surplus to the taxpayers, but by not taking it in the first place when it is not needed.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Working To Bring Back Endangered Species

One of the responsibilities of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is to protect and preserve the fauna in our preserves. One of the projects we are doing is to try releasing barn owls into our preserves. Check out this video (you can also see this and other videos at the District website.)

Things To Do

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has a lot of things to do this winter. Every Sunday from now until February 25th, there are sleigh rides available at Danada Forest Preserve. Actually, the ride is in a wagon if there is less than 6" of snow. The price is only $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children 5 - 12. Children under 5 are free. While there, check out the Kentucky-style barn, the home of Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair. And don't miss our 4 mustangs.

On February 3rd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm go to
Hidden Lake Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn. That is when the 'Wonders of Winter' is being held. There will be cross-county skiing and snowshoeing clinics, an ice fishing workshop, live raptor (hawks, falcons, and owls) demonstrations, a geocaching workshop, an 1890's ice-cutting demonstration and more.

For a list of upcoming events click on this link.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

'Whose' Water Money Begs The Question

The DuPage Water Commission has a $100 million surplus. This is after sending $75 million over to DuPage County. Now the various municipalities are lining up to get their 'share', in part, to prevent the County from coming in to take more. While I have my share of concerns over one taxing body raiding another's funds, I also have some concerns over the disposition of the surplus.

1) I live in a community that does not receive lake water. Since we have to pay the sales tax anyway, the first checks should go to those communities. West Chicago's request of the money collected in their town, even though it has its own water source, seems reasonable.

2) Given recent concerns that the Western Suburbs will experience a water shortage in the not too distant future, perhaps some money should be used to raise the regional fresh water capacity. This could be done by developing a reservoir system and/or creating a system to continuously recharge our depleted aquifers.

3) All of this begs the question "Do we still need a sales tax if we are constantly building significant surpluses?" Perhaps we should discontinue the tax until we need the money for developing water supply infrastructure.