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Monday, December 6, 2004, 11 a.m.
A complete report on the park's referendum will appear in Wednesday's newspaper.


Oak Park park commissioners unanimously agreed Thursday to ask voters for a tax hike next April. If approved, the referendum would increase the park district's tax rate by .25 cents per $100 EAV and generate $2.9 million for the cash-strapped parks and pave the way for the district to free itself of financial dependence on village government.

The measure would cost property tax payers roughly $52 per $20,900 in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV), or per $100,000 in actual market value; For instance, the owner of a $360,000 home would pay $188.

The village annually provides the parks with $1.6 million, or 22 percent of the district's total budget. Last month, the park board approved a resolution committing the district to ending its dependence on that funding, a strategy recommended by both a hired consultant and citizen committee.

The dollars generated by the tax hike would allow the district to recoup revenue lost as a result of that separation, and would also give the parks money for capital improvements.

This is the only form of referendum that easily gives the district the ability to funnel new tax dollars toward both operations and capital improvements.

Any capital investment would likely be based on recommendations made in both an infrastructure report and the district's recently completed master plan.   

As the park board prepares to seek community support for the tax hike, one question that has already surfaced is to what level, if any, the village would cease to levy the dollars it currently turns over the park district if a referendum is approved. The $1.6 million the village gives the parks comes from its general corporate fund. Property taxes dollars only comprise 25 percent of that fund, said village finance director Greg Peters.

At this time, Wednesday Journal does not have comments from elected officials regarding whether or not they believe the village should continue to levy the $1.6 million.


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