Tom Kacich: Nursing home issues on board's plate

Tom Kacich: Nursing home issues on board's plate

Newly elected Champaign County Board Chair C. Pius Weibel said last week that he wanted to review the numbers from the Nov. 8 vote on the quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax for facilities in advance of Tuesday's special board study session on the county nursing home.

It shouldn't take long.

Not only did the proposal lose countywide, 70 percent to 30 percent, but it lost in every part of the county — Champaign, Urbana, suburban areas, rural areas — and it lost in every precinct.

While Champaign residents approved a large increase in their property taxes for school construction, approximately 66 percent to 34 percent, the county facilities tax failed in the city of Champaign, getting just 32.4 percent.

The sales tax increase proposal got a 35.4 percent in Urbana and a paltry 23.94 percent in precincts outside the cities.

Weibel and the rest of the county board have to decide by Jan. 15 — the deadline to get questions on the April 4 consolidated election ballot — what to do about the cash-strapped county nursing home. Its board has asked for $12 million infusion by way of either a property tax increase (the nursing home board's preferred option) or a re-do of the sales tax, from which the nursing home would get a portion of the proceeds.

Weibel has already said he doesn't want to undertake all of the projects that had been targeted in the sales tax plan, saying he thought it was too ambitious.

Of the $12 million it wants — not all at once — the nursing home board says that it needs $7 million for capital expenses, $2 million to pay overdue bills and $3 million to build an operations reserves fund because the state has become such an unreliable payor.

The study session of the county board — the first full meeting for the board's five new members who are going right into the financial fire — is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Brooken Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U.

The People's Map

The Chicago-based political group known as The People's Map closed up shop last Wednesday, filing a final report with the State Board of Elections and disclosing where its money came from and where it went.

Until recently, little was known of the group, although there were suspicions that it was tied to Michael Madigan, head of the Democratic Party of Illinois and Speaker of the Illinois House.

The People's Map was formed in April 2015 to oppose the independent maps amendment that a number of groups and individuals, including some remarkably dedicated people in Champaign County, tried to get on the 2016 ballot. The amendment was aimed at taking the legislative redistricting process out of the hands of the Legislature, primarily Madigan.

But the amendment was tossed out in August by an Illinois Supreme Court that voted along party lines. The case against the amendment was made chiefly through the legal efforts of Chicago attorney Michael Kasper, whose records show was paid $20,982 for "campaign expenses and document review" by The People's Map.

And the $25,000 raised by The People's Map came entirely from political action committees for organized labor, including the Illinois Education Association, the state AFL-CIO, the Illinois Pipe Trades and the Construction and General Laborers District Council in Burr Ridge, and from lawyers or law firms. Nearly all of the law firms that donated are from the Chicago area, except for Tapella & Eberspacher LLC in Mattoon, the Prince Law Firm in Marion and Sara Salger of the Gori Julian & Associates firm in Edwardsville.

Uncompetitive election

There's a four-way race for mayor of Urbana in February (three Democrats, one Republican), but none of the other offices up for election — 10 of them — is contested.

Here are the offices and the single candidates: City clerk, Democrat Charles Smyth; Cunningham Township Assessor, Democrat Wayne Williams; Cunningham Township Supervisor, Democrat Danielle Chynoweth.

Also, Aldermen: Ward 1, Democrat Maryalice Wu; Ward 2, Democrat Eric Jakobsson; Ward 3, Democrat Aaron Ammons; Ward 4, Democrat Bill Brown; Ward 5, Democrat Dennis Roberts; Ward 6, Republican Harold Hazen; Ward 7, Jared Miller.

Tracy report

Peter Tracy, the Champaign Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the Champaign County Board in District 5, losing to Jon Rector by 38 votes, last week reported spending $6,391 in his campaign.

Tracy was his own biggest contributor, donating nearly $4,000. Other major contributors included Michael Trout of Urbana, $500; the local AFL-CIO, $300; Julian Rappaport and Dan Maher, both of Champaign, and AFSCME, $250 each.

Rector hasn't filed a post-election disclosure report yet. On Oct. 25, he reported having more than $3,600 available.

Free rides

Karl Gnadt, director of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, reported last week that an MTD promotion providing free rides on Election Day appears to have boosted riders that day by about 2,000.

"The reason we can't tell for sure, of course, is that by the nature of being a free-fare day, no fare information is collected," he said. "So, for instance, we can't tell the difference between a (University of Illinois) student rider, an adult annual pass rider or a new rider due to free fares."

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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Local Yocal wrote on December 11, 2016 at 10:12 am
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"Weibel has already said he doesn't want to undertake all of the projects that had been targeted in the sales tax plan, saying he thought it was too ambitious."

Weibel didn't feel that way when he voted for the sales tax plan earlier this year. Will Weibel be honest with the voters to list his priority construction list?