North Chicago comptroller John Gantz to retire
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org | @JudyReport October 23, 2013 7:26PM
North Chicago city Comptroller John Gantz was honored during a City Council meeting on Oct. 21. He's retiring on Oct. 31. At left is North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham.| Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media
A public hearing on a proposed increase to the city of North Chicago’s property tax levy will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at North Chicago City Hall, 1850 Lewis Ave.
Updated: November 25, 2013 1:06PM
The man who has overseen North Chicago city finances for more than a decade is retiring.
Comptroller John Gantz, like any savvy municipal department head, has always managed to stay above the fray in heated political debates, a fact noted in a resolution presented to him during a meeting of the North Chicago City Council on Monday, Oct. 21.
The softspoken Gantz, a youthful 70, has worked for the city since 2001. He leaves a long career in accounting and municipal finance on Oct. 31.
“What I have learned over the years is you have to be open, you have to be very honest, you have to present what is requested and speak to what is being presented,” Gantz said. “If you can somehow muster the general support of those you report to − the city council − that goes a long way in keeping your head below all the political stuff that goes on.”
Gantz oversaw the adoption of five bond ordinances to pay for projects including sewer line extensions, the still-to-be developed Sheridan Crossing and Grant Place, a retail center on Sheridan Road. He also guided the city through the economic downturn that started in 2008.
“The city is currently in good financial condition, but that’s not to say there aren’t any concerns,” Gantz said. “We made adjustments to make sure we maintained our fiscal viability.”
Viability has come at a cost for residents and business owners who have seen their property taxes increased with regularity, in part to cover payments and interest on approximately $26 million in bonded debt. The city needs to collect $1.9 million in taxes for 2013 to make those payments.
Gantz has shepherded the council through what is his final budget process and the city is preparing to file its annual tax levy, a proposed 17 percent increase over last year. The levy, if approved, will also provide a bump for police and fire pensions that are currently underfunded by 55 percent.
City Treasurer Ken Robinson told the council on Monday that the city’s unfunded pension liability totals nearly $2.5 million.
“We’d like to see the levy come down,” Gantz said. “And that ties into the need for development and the redevelopment of the TIF district along Sheridan Road.”
Mayor Leon Rockingham heaped praised on Gantz, saying that the comptroller’s work has been of the “highest quality.”
“John has truly kept this city in line,” Rockingham said. “If you don’t handle the money right, I don’t care what department you’re in, you can’t move forward.”
“It has been a privilege to serve the city,” said Gantz. “My job has been challenging, even difficult at times. But it has been rewarding and it has been gratifying.”
Gantz and his wife, the parents of three children, recently sold their home in Fox River Grove and are moving to Mokena.