How much will the park tax hike cost you?

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Oak Park Township Assessor Ali ElSaffar (and undoubtedly the park board) has been getting this question a lot lately: What will that park district referendum cost me?

And the answer, he said, is incredibly difficult?#34;if not impossible?#34;to come up with.

ElSaffar believes that overall spending by Oak Park taxing bodies will be about $120 million without passage of the referendum, and $123.7 million if the referendum is approved.

So, overall spending in Oak Park will go up about 2.8 percent if the referendum is approved. Taxpayers in Oak Park will have to cover the 2.8 percent, somehow. Just how, is too hard to say.

The tax hike wouldn't hit tax bills until 2006. But this year is a reassessment year, meaning the county will re-consider the worth of your home, and determine how much of the tax burden will fall on you.

Complicating matters further, is that, also in 2005, new legislation that caps assessed value increases at 7 percent for most homeowners will kick in.

During the last reassessment in Oak Park, residents saw an increase of as much as 30 percent in property values. This was not because of dramatic increases in local government spending, but because homeowners took on most of the property tax burden after businesses and multi-family building owners filed successfully for appeals.

Because of the new 7-percent cap, it is highly unlikely that most homeowners will see that kind of increase again, as businesses will be forced to shoulder more of the burden this time. ElSaffar thinks it's also unlikely, however, that tax bills for Oak Parkers will significantly drop, if at all.

So, back to the first question, what will the referendum cost you?

All we can know, ElSaffar said, is that overall spending in Oak Park will go up, likely by 2.8 percent, and you will pay some of it. The reassessment and the new cap will determine how much that is at a later date.

?#34;Katharine Grayson


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