As we visit with many of you on front porches, at coffees and other events, we’re struck by what a committed and dynamic community this is. We’re also struck by how many of you have noticed those qualities are lacking on our current village board. Too many resignations and missed meetings. Too much grandstanding. No clear agenda. An inability to decide things.
The result is uncertainty and frustration. That’s why so many of you are saying, “Let’s get Oak Park moving again!”
And if you elect our team on April 17, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We have a clear set of priorities, a detailed action agenda to address those priorities, and the experience, skills, and commitment as people and as a team to roll up our sleeves and take action.
Our priorities: economic revitalization, fiscal responsibility, support for education.
They’re all related. Oak Parkers are telling us they want more choices in Oak Park for their shopping needs. By revitalizing our commercial/retail sector, we’ll create those choices and reduce the “trade deficit” we have with neighboring communities by keeping more of our shopping dollars here and importing more from outside Oak Park (see chart). Increased sales tax revenue means we have less need to rely on property taxes to fund village services. And for every extra dollar generated by expanding the commercial property tax base, two-thirds goes to our schools.
If we don’t revitalize our commercial/retail sector to expand our tax base, there will be no local source for additional revenue for schools or other essential services other than residential taxpayers, who now shoulder about 80 percent of our local property tax burden, up from less than 70 percent just five years ago.
The VCA/NLP slates say they oppose revitalization because it won’t cut your property taxes. But by opposing efforts to revive our commercial sector, they ensure that residential property taxes will be the only source for increased local education funding. It’s fiscally irresponsible to put residents in the position of having to choose between a budget-busting property tax bill or support for our schools.
We have a better plan:
BULET Implement citizen-created business district revitalization plans.
BULET Begin aggressive efforts to attract businesses and quality developers who have strong retail connections.
BULET Treat current and new business prospects as valued customers, making it easier and faster to do business here.
BULET Require a school financial impact statement for every redevelopment plan, as recommended by the District 97 school board.
Those are just the highlights. For more detail, check out our entire action agenda at www.progressiveaction.net. It also includes our proposals for a new sustainability commission, an intergovernmental public-private initiative to attack the achievement gap, and ideas for making village government more user-friendly.
While you’re at it, check out our bios. We think you’ll agree we’re the candidates with the proven abilities and commitment to do what we say we’re going to do. We certainly share your sense of urgency and ask for your vote on April 17.
Ray Johnson, Jan Pate, Jon Hale, John Hedges
Citizens for Progressive Action