Thumbs-up, thumbs-down: Sensible course for future of Barb City Manor – for now

Thumbs-up: To a reasonable compromise for the future of Barb City Manor, the seniors’ independent living facility at 680 Haish Blvd. The city has owned the property used by the Manor for 40 years and for most of that time has allocated $100,000 a year for maintenance at the building, which is almost 100 years old. However, for many years that money came from tax-increment financing proceeds, and the TIF district that provided the money is expiring. This week, a 10-year-lease deal was reached to allow the Manor to continue operating on the property with the city providing $50,000 a year for maintenance, then scaling back to $25,000 a year in 2028. The property will continue to need maintenance. However, the city no longer has the funding it once did and the money invested in the property so far hopefully will be enough to keep the operation viable, perhaps with the help of increased donations and grants. If a future crisis arises, city officials may have a problem to solve, but for now, this seems like a financially responsible course to chart for the future.

Thumbs-down: To the first wave of new taxes taking effect in Illinois. Beginning Monday, residents may notice increases in the cost of gasoline, vehicle registration fees and cigarettes. The tax on motor fuel is doubling to 38 cents a gallon, and annual passenger vehicle registration fees are increasing 51% to $151 a year. Those who smoke cigarettes will pay another $1 a pack. The tax hikes are expected to raise billions toward road maintenance and other capital improvements around the state, along with future revenue expected from sources including legalized sports betting and casino gambling, as well as state borrowing. It’s critical that Illinois invests in its infrastructure, and someone has to pay for it – but things only seem to get more expensive in Illinois. Residents will expect results for the extra money they’ll be giving up.

Thumbs-down: To a lack of kindergarten readiness among Illinois children. The second annual Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, or KIDS report, released this week, shows only about a quarter of students who entered school in 2018 were prepared in terms of their social and emotional development; language and literacy development; and math skills. The report also showed wide disparities between racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, with black and Hispanic students and those from low-income households much less likely to be fully prepared for kindergarten. It's important that students be ready to learn when they begin school – those who start lagging behind socially or intellectually are more likely to suffer setbacks as they continue through school.