Property Tax Bill, Fort Sheridan, Winchester House, Legislative Update

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Sandy Hart, District 13

May 15, 2015

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Property Tax Bill

If you’re a homeowner, you’ve recently received your property tax bill, which was calculated using your home’s equalized assessed value (EAV).  Tax bills are due in two equal installments, June 3 and September 3.  Check out our new interactive Property Tax Tour to see exactly where your tax dollars go and visit Lake County’s budget portal to see what Lake County does with its portion.  FAQ

In late summer you will receive an assessment notice for your home, showing the value and if it has changed versus prior year.  If you believe your home has been over-assessed, you can appeal your assessment.  I will again be holding Assessment Appeal Workshops in my district to take interested homeowners through the assessment appeal process and will communicate those dates and locations in upcoming newsletters.

Fort Sheridan update

Thanks to all of you who attended the open house or who submitted comments online regarding the Fort Sheridan Concept Plans.  More than 500 public comments have been received, and the open house was attended by about 240 people.  The Planning & Restoration Committee, on which I serve, will meet in June and/or July to discuss the feedback, and there will be several additional meetings as commissioners and staff determine next steps.  I will continue to keep you posted.

Mental Health

On Tuesday the County Board unanimously passed a resolution I sponsored to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.  Lake County is proactive on this issue, and has been working on this problem for several months.  Why does this matter to you?

  • Jails have become a "holding area” for the mentally ill, many of whom have been arrested for minor violations.  Nationally, there are more people with mental illnesses in jails than in psychiatric hospitals
  • Approximately 40% of the Lake County jail inmates receive psychotropic medication. The mentally ill tend to stay longer in jail and are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration.
  • 42% of the 9,000 adults in our jail were previously admitted within the last three years.
  • Jails spend two to three times more money on adults with mental illness. 

Next week I will travel to Rockford with members of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court, Lake County Health Department, law enforcement, and other agencies to tour Rosecrance Mulberry to learn about their crisis intervention center and how we might design a system to reduce our mentally ill population in our jail and provide them with the services they need to get their life back on track.

Winchester House

On Tuesday, May 12, the Lake County Board voted to approve a lease agreement with Transitional Care Management (TCM) for three years, with TCM committing to build a new facility for a "new" Winchester House at the end of the lease agreement.  For the last eight + years, the Winchester House Advisory Board (made up of dedicated residents, health care professionals, and others), and County employees visited nursing homes, analyzed health care data, trends, and met on a monthly basis to determine the right course of action for the future of Winchester House. 

TCM will maintain operations at the current site in Libertyville for three years and will provide a transition plan for existing residents and services. Winchester House has been providing excellent care to Lake County residents for more than 150 years, and this plan preserves that mission for the future.  I will keep you posted on this very important topic.


Lake County Plans $137MM in Road Projects for 2015

This year, the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) will have $137 million in road projects under construction making for another busy construction season. While about $60 million of that is carried over from projects that were started last year, there will be about $77 million in new projects. The plan includes 24 projects, 11 of which contain non-motorized travel improvements, such as bike paths, or adding bike friendly lanes. At a press conference at the Peterson Road Corridor Project, Lake County leaders talked about the projects, safety and the importance of transportation to economic development.  Watch now


Washington Street (Near Courthouse Construction site in downtown Waukegan) To Close Rest of Year
Washington Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and County Street is closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic and will remain closed for eight to 10 months as the county advances work on the courthouse expansion project. In addition to the Washington Street road closure, the western portion of County Street from Washington Street to Water Street will also be closed with vehicular and pedestrian traffic moving to the east side of the street. Detour information, a map and information regarding the courthouse expansion are available on the project website

Expect Long-Term Lane Closures at Four Tollway Ramp Toll Plazas
The Illinois Tollway has scheduled long-term lane closures for repairs at four North Tri-State Tollway (I-94) ramp toll plazas starting this week. The plazas affected are Buckley Road (Plaza 20), Townline Road (Plaza 22), Half Day Road (Plaza 23) and Lake-Cook Road (Plaza 26). Look for electronic message signs to direct you through the toll plaza during repairs. All work is scheduled to be complete this summer. While ramp repairs are underway, no more than one toll collection lane will be closed at a time. I-PASS customers will have access at all times, while cash customers will be directed to pay tolls online. 

Stormwater Management and Oriole Grove

The Stormwater Management Commission (SMC), on which I serve, recently approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the East Skokie Drainage District (ESSD) to construct wetlands in North Chicago to provide flood damage reduction benefits for the Skokie River sub-watershed.  Many of you recall that Oriole Grove in Lake Bluff (located between LBOLA and LFOLA properties just west of Green Bay Road) was jointly purchased by IDNR and Lake County Forest Preserves (LCFPD) many years ago with the intent to provide flood control by installing a detention basin.  In 2009, a study concluded that this site was not economically feasible for flood storage as there was virtually no downstream flood relief benefit.   The IGA with ESSD is part of the initiative to control flash flood events in this watershed further upstream. 

Regarding Oriole Grove, the LCFPD recently contracted with LBOLA to maintain trails in this beautiful preserve.  We are fortunate to have a volunteer steward who donates considerable time and resources to keep these trails open to our residents, thus providing a trail system through 250 acres of open space from Deerpath Road to Route 176.  If you are interested in volunteering on this parcel, please let me know.

Legislative Efforts

There are several state legislative items that Lake County Government and the Lake County Forest Preserves are closely monitoring.  I’ve outlined a few of them here; please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Government Consolidation:  In 2013, DuPage County received state authorization to abolish certain units of government as part of its efforts to reduce the number of taxing bodies in their county.  House Bill 229, which recently passed out of the House and is now in the Senate, would authorize Lake County and McHenry County to join DuPage to eliminate certain small units of government.  As you probably know, Illinois has more taxing bodies than any other state in the nation and has the second highest property taxes (behind New Jersey). 

Right Sizing FacilitiesSenate Bill 0791, sponsored by Senator Melinda Bush, would amend the Downstate Forest Preserve Act to allow the Lake County Forest Preserve District to lease part of our General Office space to an outside organization or business.  If the offices were rented to full capacity, it would be a revenue source and would reduce operating costs.  This bill has passed out of the Senate and is on its second reading in the House.

Overdose Prevention: Currently, state law does not provide adequate civil protections for health care professionals or emergency personnel in the event that they administer Naloxone, a medication that can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid-induced drug overdose.   House Bill 2940 and HB 3321 amend the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act to grant civil protections when administering Naloxone in an emergency situation.  House Bill 001 consolidates the entire Opioid-related legislative framework in one bill.

It’s important to add that already, most of the law enforcement departments in Lake County are saving lives using Naloxone.  Just this week, the twelfth life was saved by emergency responders.  The heroin crisis is very real, and heroin overdose deaths are on the rise in Lake County.  The “new” users are suburban men and women in their 20s who get hooked on prescription painkillers and turn to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get.  If you or someone you know needs help, or if you would like more information on our efforts, please visit

Accurate Taxation:  An item from the 98th General Assembly that deserves special mention is Senate Bill 347, which originated out of the out of the Lake County Forest Preserve District.  This law amended the Property Tax Code by adding three extra decimal points (up to six decimal places) to the tax rate, allowing for the tax extension to be as close to the levy requested as possible.  Before this passed,  governmental agencies rounded up the tax rate, thereby receiving more in taxes than was actually needed.  


Board Adopts Reduced Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16

To keep more than 30,300 acres of forest preserves in Lake County safe, clean and open for people to enjoy, the Board adopted a balanced budget at our May meeting. Approximately 2.17% of a typical tax bill goes to support your Forest Preserves.  The Lake County’s Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) has declined 25.7% over the last six years, and total Forest Preserve property tax revenues collected are projected to decrease.   Over this time, the District has reduced staff and made many other cost-cutting measures.  However, a conservative budgeting approach has helped to maintain our AAA bond rating, an achievement shared by only six forest preserves and park districts in the nation.

This budget includes public access improvements and renovations already underway at several preserves and trail systems, including Fox River (Port Barrington), Grassy Lake (Lake Barrington), Pine Dunes (Old Mill Creek), and Lakewood (Wauconda). The completion of the final remaining section of the Des Plaines River Trail and additions to the regional Millennium Trail that runs through central, western and northern Lake County are also planned.

Healthy Lake County

Lyme Disease More Common in Lake County

The Lake County Health Department encourages you to take precautions against ticks, which can carry diseases such as Lyme disease:

  • Stay on trails when in forest preserves and parks.
  • Wear light-colored, protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or sturdy shoes, and a head covering. Tuck trouser cuffs in socks and tuck in shirt tails.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET primarily to clothes. Apply repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Do not apply directly to the face. Always follow label directions and supervise children in the use of repellents. 

Trail work revised

Temporary Trail  and Facility Closures

Through the spring and summer, construction projects and weather-related events sometimes mean trails may be detoured and preserves and facilities may be temporarily closed to ensure public safety.

Lake County Advances Sustainability Goals

The Lake County Board is committed to sustainability, as reflected in the Lake County Strategic Plan.  Here are just some things we're doing to promote sustainability:

  • Investing in energy saving improvements to buildings including installation of energy efficient windows, HVAC improvements, energy efficient lighting and automation devices. The most recent example is the renovation of the Courthouse Administrative Tower, which has resulted in a 27% reduction in energy use.
  • Lake County Public Works installed new technology at the Vernon Hills wastewater treatment center, improving water quality by removing 50% of nutrients and 98% of phosphorous.
  • Introduced an electric vehicle pilot program, which produces zero emissions and uses zero fuel.
  • The Lake County Division of Transportation recycled 156,000 pounds of scrap metal, 3687 gallons of used motor oil, and 470 gallons of used anti-freeze.

Find out other things Lake County is doing to advance our Sustainability Strategic Goal, and find out how you can "Take Action" in greening your home, business and community on our Sustainability Web Portal

Lake County Partners Presentation

Lake County Partners of Attracting and Retaining Business

One of the Lake County Board’s top strategic goals is improving economic opportunities. Lake County Partners, Lake County’s economic development agency made up of government and business representatives, implements strategies that focus on attracting, retaining and expanding businesses and spearheading initiatives that bolster business success. Partners recently gave an update to the County Board on its progress. Listen to that presentation here

5 steps to your next job

Five Steps to Your Next Job
Five Steps to Your Next Job,” an interactive workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to noon May 18 to 22 at the Job Center of Lake County, 1 N. Genesee St., Waukegan. The series covers the job search process from researching careers to landing your next job.  Attend all five days to earn a certificate. Seating is limited.  Call 847-377-3439 to reserve a seat. Details

Visit Employer Panel, Job Fair on May 21 in Grayslake
At 11 a.m., May 21, join the Employer Panel. A panel of human resource professionals will give the inside scoop on the hiring process. Then from 1 to 5 p.m., come to the JobMarketPlace job fair featuring nearby 80 employers. Bring a current resume, and dress in business attire. Both events will take place at the College of Lake County, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake. More information

Military Families Can Visit Museums Free As Part of Blue Star

The Lake County Discovery Museum  offers free admission to military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 25 through Labor Day, Sept. 7 as part of  Blue Star Museums. Free admission is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. Military as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corp and up to five family members. To find participating museums, visit the Blue Star Museums' website.


Join an Early Morning Free Bird Walk

May is the month for songbirds. Join skilled birders on these free bird walks. All ages are invited. Bring binoculars. All walks begin at 7 a.m. 

Lake County provides service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and you may be surprised to learn all the services we provide. Check out our new 24/7 interactive presentation that shows how we are working around the clock to serve you. 

FREE Workshop to Manage Ponds and Wetlands

A free workshop for associations and property owners who are responsible for maintaining detention ponds, wetlands and natural areas will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 19 at the College of Lake County, 19351 W. Washington St., Wing C lower level, Grayslake. Attend workshops and talk with consultants and contractors who can provide the best ways to maintain subdivision drainage systems. For information, contact Darcy Hertel at 847-377-7707 or send email to

Meet County Clerk Carla Wyckoff

In this County Update, Lake County Clerk Carla Wyckoff discusses the work done in the clerk’s office that goes beyond the election activity every year, and learn how the County Clerk’s Office handles vital records and property tax extensions. Wyckoff also addresses her hope that more county residents will vote considering the advances made to make registering and voting easier. Watch

Update Wyckoff

Here is a list of many of the meetings I’ve attended since my last newsletter. I would be happy to speak with you about them.

  • Meeting with Court Appointed Child Advocacy (CASA)
  • Opioid Roundtable sponsored by Representative Dold
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Court Collaborative
  • Sexual Assault Coordinating Council
  • Winchester House Advisory Board meeting
  • Anti-Bullying Initiative sponsored by Highland Park
  • Lake County Opioid Initiative
  • Lake Bluff Village Board Meeting
  • Committee meetings-Planning, Building & Zoning; Law & Judicial; Health & Community Services
  • Committee meetings-Public Works & Transportation; Rules, Records, & Legislation; Finance
  • Forest Preserve Committee Meetings-Planning & Restoration; Finance
  • Forest Preserve Budget meetings
  • Stormwater Management Commission
  • Waukegan Main Street luncheon
  • Idlewild Homeowners Association
  • Route 53 Overview
  • Housing & Community Development Commission
  • Lake County United

As always, it is a privilege to represent you on the Lake County Board and the Lake County Forest Preserve Board.  Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.  Best wishes for a safe and relaxing Memorial Day, and please try to attend one of the many Memorial Day services in your area to honor those who have served our country.  One to mark on your calendar is Veterans Voices at Gorton Center on May 29th at 7:00pm.


Sandy Hart Signature



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