Friday, September 28, 2007

Metro Centre Fall Festival This Sat., Sept. 29

We did this last year and the kids really enjoyed it. Activities scheduled are balloons and face painters (10 - 2), free popcorn, pumpkin games throughout the day, Denny Schielein and his Barrelhouse Band (12 - 2), and my kids personal favorite: Trolley Rides! (9:30 - 1:30). The Metro Centre is located at the corner of University and Glen in Peoria. Should be a nice time and a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PEORIA TWP. REAL ESTATE TAX APPEAL WORKSHOP - Monday, Oct. 1 - 7:00pm

If you just recieved a NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT INCREASE for Peoria Twp, and you feel your new assessment is unfair or too high, we have a solution.

Tim Johnson, Tamara Krupps, and Diane Vespa of RE/MAX Unlimited will be hosting a free tax appeal workshop at their office next Monday evening, October 1, at 7:00pm. Guest speaker will be Bob McQuellon, a specialist in real estate tax appeals. He will offer Peoria homeowners some tips on successfully appealing your taxes, as well as offer a free evaluation on your chances for a successful appeal. Mr. McQuellon can also be hired privately to appeal your real estate taxes on your behalf. All necessary forms for filing a tax appeal will be reviewed and provided. There is no charge to attend this event however advance reservations are required. Please call 309-687-4960 for further details and to make your reservation. RE/MAX Unlimited is located at 3622 N. Knoxville Avenue, Peoria. (the corner of Knoxville and War Memorial Drive.) You can only enter the parking lot by heading North on Knoxville. Hope to see many of you there!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Real estate taxes too high? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Its the least wonderful time of the year... when Peoria County rolls out their new tax assessments. Chances are, you got socked pretty good this year. How do I know? My experience has shown that it is directly proportional to the number of people who call me and ask for help protesting their taxes. And this year has been a doo-sie. Coincidentally, (ha!!!) The Board of Appeals has also changed their rules to make it more DIFFICULT for you to appeal. But fear not, I will simplify things and impart upon you the small amount of knowledge you need to successfully appeal your taxes.

First of all, if you live in Kickapoo or West Peoria Twp, you can STOP reading. Its too late to appeal your taxes for the 2007 tax year (payable 2008). If you live in Peoria, read on - you have until October 18. IF YOU DO NOT APPEAL YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT BEFORE OCTOBER 18 OF THIS YEAR DO NOT COMPLAIN WHEN YOU GET YOUR BILL IN JUNE 2008.

First step, go here and read. Here is a tip - if you don't understand something you read there, The Board of Review office isn't really that interested in explaining it to you. Somehow their phone gets disconnected before they have a chance to say "goodbye".

Step 2. Download this form and this form for residential real estate. Tip: If you also choose to download the RULES, you will notice that it states "It is strongly recommended that the taxpayer discuss his/her assessment with the Township Assessor prior to the filing of a complaint with the Board of Review." Do not be fooled by this... this is only so they have a chance to talk you out of it. A phone call of this nature will not lower your tax assessment so don't waste your time!

Step 3 - You must form a basis for your complaint. There are several ways to accomplish this. The easiest is to totally SUCK UP to your Realtor and ask them to provide you with comparable sales via the Multiple Listing Service to support a lower assessment. They should be happy to oblige and most likely will not charge you for this service. If you have been a chronic FSBO all your life you might be on your own for this one. You will then have to trot on down to your friendly Supervisor of Assessments office which is on the main level of the courthouse and rummage through Subdivision files, looking for recent sales of homes similar to yours that support (not defeat) your claim to a lower tax assessment. Don't forget to bring your readers. I have found the folks at this office to be quite consistently helpful and personable.

Step 4 - Fill out the aforementioned forms.

Step 5 - Trot back down to the Supervisor of Assessments Office and ask for the PROPERTY RECORD CARD for all of the homes you used as comparables. This will cost you a few dollars and if you do it over the lunch hour it can be quite an experience. The form will ask you if you wish to appear for a hearing or if they should decide on what you submitted. TIP - Ask for a hearing but prepare for them to decide without you. This is because when they send you a hearing time and you are not available (um, well like, maybe... YOU WORK!) they will NOT reschedule but will instead base their decision on what you submitted. Even though you requested a hearing. This is the Peoria Supervisor of Assessments at work to serve you!

Step 6 - Attend your hearing. Do not allow them to intimidate you. Be polite and prepared. It is possible they will reach a mutual agreement with you then and there to a lower assessment. If not, you will recieve a notice of their decision via snail mail.

Step 7 - If you are denied, and you still feel you are right, you can take it to the State level of appeals. I will reserve that commentary for another post. If you have won, put a 6 pack of Corona's on ice and give me a call!

Suffice it to say I am intimately acquainted with every one of these steps, because I have found that Peoria has a tendency to overassess, particularly in newer areas on the North side of town. It is your RIGHT and OBLIGATION to keep your assessments fair and reasonable. I have contacted the Peoria Journal Star and the Times Observer to do some reporting on this subject, as I have found it to be an issue that is very significant, yet under-reported, and therefore, leaves the average Peorian ignorant of the process and helpless to the whims of the Township Assessors. Neither news media has responded. So, I leave it to the blogging and internet community work their grass roots magic and get the word out to help our fellow Peorians!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What is wrong with this picture?


So tonight after the CUBS WIN!!! I am watching Fox News and they are doing a piece on the recent arrest of OJ Simpson, and lo and behold, who are they interviewing but none other than racist and Fox News correspondant MARK FUHRMAN! How can this be? Couldn't even the most uninformed person over the age of 30 tell you that if it wasn't for Mark Fuhrman the only image we would see of OJ would be that of him on DEATH ROW? I would love to see Fuhrman's resume for when he applied for this gig. Racist, perjurer, obstructor of justice. You're hired!! OK fess up, who lost the bet?

Ordinarily, I have a lot of respect for Fox News and how they have single-handedly changed the landscape of the News media as we know it, but why do they de-value themselves by hiring the likes of Mark Fuhrman and Geraldo Rivera? Thank God they at least had the sense to get rid of Rita Cosby. Can someone please give Rupert Murdock a ringy-dingy and knock some sense in to him??

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So much to do - so little time!


The Peoria Park District Fall Winter Playbook is now available! I look forward to this publication every season. It is so enjoyable to check out the various classes and imagine the possibilities if I had no kids or job. But since I have both of those.. they are destined to remain just that - a fantasy. So here they are, in no particular order - the top 5 Activities I'd like to participate in through the PPD!

1. ADULT, INFANT AND CHILD CPR - American Red Cross Building - $55

2. STAGING YOUR HOME FOR TOP DOLLAR- Sterling School $17

3. COOKING CLASS - HORS D'OEVERES - the Bronze Frog - $35. Hey, is this taught by our own Chef Kevin? Me thinks so!

4. SWIM FOR FITNESS- LOW IMPACT - Riverplex $32

5. BALLROOM DANCE -Owens Center - $62

And here are a few you wouldn't catch me dead at.

COMPUTERS FOR MATURE ADULTS: There isn't enough Red Bull in the world that would keep me awake for that one.

BOW MAKING. - I'm thinkin that doesn't need an explanation.

CAKE DECORATING FOR BEGINNERS - Heres all you need to know about that subject: Make, Bake, Eat.

ADVANCED OPEN WATER SCUBA - don't you people read the papers?

BE A NIFTY KNITTER (See comment for Bow-making)

Pick up a copy of the Fall/Winter 2007 Playbook or visit their website for the details!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Great Peoria based blog focusing on mental health

I can't remember what I was googling the other day, but this great new blog popped up in the search results. The author is a local Peoria therapist/counselor, and although I don't know her personally, she has a great reputation. From her bio it looks like she is an author, and all of her blog posts are original and filled with great advice on living and feeling well. God knows we can all use some of that! Anyhoo, thought I would give credit where credit is due and recognize this nice blog that is nothing but pleasant and helpful! Cause we all know you aren't going to get that here!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Girl kicked off plane cause her tootie was showing.

This cracks me up. Matt Lauer was interviewing some hot blond chick about her recent flight from LA on Southwest Airlines. The hot blond was lamenting how she suffered extreme humiliation due to the flight crew asking her to leave the plane due to inappropriate attire. Matt teased the audience for a few minutes by saying the girl was wearing the exact same outfit as she was wearing for the interview. His outraged tone led the viewer to believe that this girl must be wearing a habit (attire worn by a Nun.) So finally he asks the camera crew to reveal what the young lady is wearing, and lets just say she ain't no Polyanna. But the the really funny part came when she had to sit down for the interview. Her skirt was so short they had to bleep out her crotch area, a-la Britney Spears wearing no panties. Obviously, the men on the plane were getting more than a bag of peanuts as their treat for the day.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Can we just call a do-over?

Lately I have been experiencing a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Every day on the news there are more images of recalled toys, contaminated with lead, that I know are lurking somewhere in our home. First, the confession... I am an over-indulgent parent. My husband is innocent of all charges. It is purely my fault. Can't explain it. Maybe I just love the look of pure joy that comes over their faces when they get something new. Maybe I'm trying to satisfy some void from my childhood. Who knows, but whatever the reason, for the kids, we just gotta have it.

It started with Thomas the Tank Engine. Our boy was 2. Every one of those engines has its own name, demeanor and history. If you get Thomas, you have to have James. And if you get James, it would be a shame to not have Gordon. And do you know that there is a snow covered Thomas, a bee covered Thomas, and a spilled paint covered Thomas? Yup, there is. I wish I were kidding. These toys by their very design are engineered to be big black holes that you continue to throw money into. I swear I think I noticed a trader from Wall Street following us around and recording our purchases. From Thomas Train we graduated to Geo Trax, and then on to Pixar Disney Cars. Every one of these lines has now had recalls due to unsafe levels of lead.

Enter: Pink. A whole new estrogen-driven obsession. Dora, Nick Jr. and all their friends, and of course, their playsets. Oh, and don't forget about Barbie, who has an entire section dedicated to her at Toys-R-US!

So there you have it. Got the picture? We have gazillions of toys. Some leaded, others unleaded. The recall lists are pages long. Mattel expects you to run around and check every serial number, every detail of every toy against these lists. Yes, we are to trust their product safety department that the lead is ONLY in the pieces that they say so.

Note to Mattel: It ain't going to happen! Instead, lets call a do-over! How about if we just load up all the toys from any manufacturer that has had lead recalls, ship them back to headquarters at their expense, and they just write me a check. Plus the $30. it is going to cost to have the kids lead-tested at the Public Health Department. Oh, and while they are at it, they can send someone out to help me hold them down.

I can imagine the conversation.. Me: Yes, I would like to return all of these toys for a refund. Them: No, maam, we are just replacing them with a safe product. Me: But I would prefer a full refund. I don't want them replaced. Them: Well now, that's not fair, your children have had the benefit of playing with these toys. Me: But now they have lead poisoning. Them: So? they still got to play with the toys!

OK, so many parents are in this boat now what do we do about it? The Peoria Public Health Department is offering lead testing to all Peoria County Residents ages 6 mths. to 6 years. I called the Peds office and they recommend if you find these toys in your home the children should be tested. Practically speaking, this means every child who has not lived the first 6 years of their lives in a closet should be tested. The lead screening is $15. per child, but free if you have a WIC card or are indigent. Often there are NO SHORT TERM SYMPTOMS of lead poisoning in a child. So just because you have a little Einstein running around does not mean he or she cannot be a victim of lead poisoning.

Another sad fall-out to all of this is it has dashed some of my fantasies of being a grand parent. I always imagined not only our children playing with these toys but our grandchildren as well. Ah, not to be. Unless the little buggers start getting on my nerves!! Just kiddin!!

My writing hand is twitching...

I'm working on a new blog entry that I'm anxious to finish... Just haven't had the time. So far all I have written is the key words *China* *killing* *our kids*... more later

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Quit the bitchin' and start snippin'


Here is a quick easy way to help out your District 150 School. Bring your box tops to Sam's next Saturday September 8. We will be collecting the box tops from the products you purchase as well as accept box tops you can clip from home. District 150 receives 10 cents per box top, which in past years has resulted in over $7,000 for Kellar School alone - 100% of which is spent directly on the kids! Look for the logo that you see at the top of this post and snip! For more information on participating brands, as well as ways to earn box tops that don't involve scissors, visit the box tops for education web site. . You can find Box Tops on brands such as Cheerios®, Betty Crocker®, Pillsbury®, Ziploc®, Kleenex®, Hefty® and more!