WBEZ | taxpayers http://www.wbez.org/tags/taxpayers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Governor closing museums, shooting range in budget standoff http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-closing-museums-shooting-range-budget-standoff-113123 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_680176133108.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO &mdash; Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to close state museums and a sport-shooting complex because of Illinois&#39; budget crisis, even though most staff will still report to work and the museum&#39;s board chairman says the savings will amount to &quot;peanuts.&quot;</p><p>By museum officials&#39; calculations, the closing of the 138-year-old museum in Springfield and its four satellite facilities will initially save the state a tiny fraction of the state&#39;s projected $5 billion budget gap.</p><p>The Republican governor targeted the museums and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in the southern Illinois community of Sparta for closure effective Wednesday. He says it&#39;s part of his efforts to manage state finances as Illinois enters its fourth month without a budget and a deal with Democrats who control the Legislature remains elusive.</p><p>Rauner&#39;s office initially sent layoff notices to more than 100 workers at the sites <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnBll2sT948" target="_blank">earlier this year</a>. He said closing the museums and recreational complex would save Illinois about $6.3 million.</p><p>But labor unions sued, arguing the move violated their contracts with the state. Rauner agreed to postpone the layoffs for union workers pending a court ruling but said he would go ahead with the closings.</p><p>The decision has left supporters of the facilities scratching their heads. They note workers will be collecting paychecks and the facilities still will have to be maintained, but the public &mdash; including school groups that frequent the museums &mdash; will be shut out.</p><p>Guerry Suggs, chairman of the state museum board of directors, said the move doesn&#39;t make much sense. Suggs said researchers and scientists will continue their work, but it&#39;s unclear what tour guides, security officers and other staff will do.</p><p>&quot;Maybe somebody will get a good card game going,&quot; he said.</p><p>Rauner spokeswoman Lyndsey Walters said in addition to scientific research, curators will maintain collections and educators will plan future programming. Other employees will be put in &quot;temporary roles.&quot; Workers at the Sparta complex will prepare the site for winter then be reassigned to other sites.</p><p>&quot;Closing the Illinois State Museum and Sparta Shooting Complex will save Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars,&quot; Walters said in an emailed statement.</p><p>Walters would not address how the savings could be that high if almost all the employees are still being paid and the facilities still have to be maintained.</p><p>Suggs estimated the savings from laying off a small number of nonunion museum employees would be less than $400,000 annually &mdash; minuscule compared with the state&#39;s multibillion-dollar deficit or the tax revenue generated by tourists, he said.</p><p>The museum&#39;s branch locations are the Dickson Mounds archaeological site in Lewistown and art galleries in&nbsp;Chicago, Lockport and Whittington.</p><p>&mdash; <em>via The Associated Press</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-closing-museums-shooting-range-budget-standoff-113123 Report: Educator severances cost millions http://www.wbez.org/story/report-educator-severances-cost-millions-89303 <p><div><p>A published report says severance packages paid&nbsp;to superintendents have cost Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars&nbsp;over the last decade.</p><p>The Chicago Tribune reports that school boards have given out&nbsp;six-figure separation checks, district-paid health care, cash for&nbsp;sick days and even a Mercedes to unwanted of superintendents. The&nbsp;newspaper reviewed more than 100 superintendent contracts,&nbsp;financial records and severance agreements over the last ten years.&nbsp;</p><p>In one case the superintendent of a Cook County school district resigned after a just a year. He left with a $100,000 severance&nbsp;payment and had left a previous Lake County high school earlier,&nbsp;getting more than $30,000 in unused vacation.&nbsp;</p><p>The head of the National School Boards Association says the&nbsp;behind-closed-doors deals raise questions about accountability and&nbsp;fiscal woes.</p></div></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/report-educator-severances-cost-millions-89303 Cook County taxpayers' stunning share of local debt http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-22/cook-county-taxpayers-stunning-share-local-debt-88181 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-22/Pappas WBEZ.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It’s no secret that the government's experiencing financial difficulties, but taxpayers in Cook County are learning more about their share of the tab.<br> <br> On Tuesday, <a href="http://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/aboutus.aspx?ntopicid=73" target="_blank">Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas</a> presented <a href="http://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/newsdetail.aspx?ntopicid=434" target="_blank">figures</a> that put local governments’ debt at over $108 billion. Total county debt puts each Chicago household on the hook for a little more than $63,000 on average. To find out more about how things add up, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.</p><p><em>Music Button: Rocket Empire, "Cruising the Galaxy', from the CD See Me Speak In Color, (Om)</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2011 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-22/cook-county-taxpayers-stunning-share-local-debt-88181