Wirepoints chief cautions that state pension crisis weighs down local governments like Waukegan
Wirepoints founder Mark Glennon says it is important that everyone in Illinois understand where the blame lies when cities like Waukegan readily accept a $3.5 million deficit as part of its latest budget proposal.
“It’s really hard to blame local administrators because most of the problems are caused by lawmakers in Springfield and all of their unfunded pensions and other mandates,” Glennon, executive director of the government watchdog website, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “Waukegan is not alone, and things could get much worse before they get better.”
There was minimal resistance from city aldermen when Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham recently proposed his budget. Cunningham even said that he doesn’t expect many concerns being raised from a panel that will soon include four new lawmakers.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Waukegan's overall proposed city budget of $180 million, slated to go into effect on May 1, is expected to run in the red largely due to such factors as a flat property tax levy, falling sales and income tax revenues and an assortment of other rising expenses.
“Waukegan taxpayers will be stuck with this bill in the form of property and sale tax increases and all sorts of other fees,” Glennon said. “It’s just the way it always seems to work, and not just in Waukegan. It’s a statewide problem that’s not going to be easy to fix and will require major reforms, starting with pensions. Things like the rules of engagement in the way we deal with unions also need to change, along with all the levels of government.”