Many residents aren’t sure what township government does, so they have no benchmark to base a decision on the township’s performance. The township is seldom covered by the media and generally doesn’t receive much public scrutiny. When the media and public don’t pay much attention to a unit of government, things have a tendency to become wasteful and inefficient. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening here in Oak Park. Our township is not spending property tax dollars wisely. This needs to change and voters can do something about it on April 7.

To clarify: Our township’s focus is on senior, youth and mental health services. We should expect programs that assist isolated seniors, target youth and provide access to those in need of mental health services. I believe most residents would support these types of services if they were done without too much waste and bureaucracy.

Nearly half of the Oak Park Township’s budget goes toward salary and benefits for employees and elected officials. Most of the township’s services are contracted for, meaning they pay someone else to administer the service or program. The township employs enough staff, managers, directors and executives with the capacity for doing more work, rather than simply paying external organizations to administer their programs and services. More can and should be done to improve services and productivity within township offices. This inefficiency is particularly troubling when many of our most vulnerable residents are without adequate services.

The township should step up its efforts to reach more isolated and homebound seniors. The federal government has made grant money available to help with needed senior services. The process of securing federal money isn’t easy, but it can be done with a little persistence and properly written grants. Our most vulnerable seniors need to be reached in greater numbers, and our elected officials should ensure that this happens.

Oak Park Township does not offer a single program for any youth that is not determined to be “at risk.” In years past, all of our youth had an opportunity to participate in township-sponsored programs. Often these activities were inexpensive to administer and afforded the vast majority of our youth something enjoyable, fun and productive to do during the summer months. We should again give kids the opportunity to do some of the following: fishing trips, job programs, student internships, social activities, day trips, sporting events, the list could go on. The point is to offer something rather than nothing.

I am asking all voters in Oak Park to support me in the April 7 election for Oak Park Township supervisor. I am committed to improving the service level and efficiency of our township. Furthermore, I will also pursue federal grant money to enhance our township programs and lessen your tax property tax burden.

Ryan Vaskovsky is an independent candidate running for Oak Park Township supervisor in the April 7 election.

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