Anan Abu-Taleb’s demand for a 10% tax cut from all local agencies is a great idea, but of the mind-boggling 18 taxing bodies on our tax bills, there is one with a spending history that indicates they should cut much more than 10%. That would be our friends at the park district. 

The PD team has been on an unprecedented and sustained spending spree that likely makes other local taking bodies envious. In 2005, the PD operated with $1,767,000 of our tax dollars. In 2006 the PD benefited via a referendum they pushed through that almost tripled tax collections to $5,252,000. I don’t remember the campaign theme, “Hey we need to triple our budget.” Nah, these folks are a bit too sophisticated for that type of disclosure. 

Now it’s 2014 and the beat amplifies with the PD spending pros planning to collect $8,415,000. A 376% increase in nine years is pretty serious spending, but clearly that is not enough. They have shackled future taxpayers with huge levels of debt to fund a massive capital improvement plan which seemingly has every PD property getting a “redo.” 

One example is the relocated gargantuan Gymnastics Center in the former Aldi store. This boondoggle (by the size of it you would think we were a town of 250,000 people) requires significant increases in capital and operating costs while completing the double-whammy of also removing a very large building from the tax rolls. And the PD just purchased another building at Ridgeland and Garfield for “storage.” Cannibalizing tax rolls demonstrates incredibly poor leadership. The PD needs to reduce our bleeding and immediately sell this new property and return it to the tax rolls. 

Spending $3 million unnecessarily on renovating their headquarters is an outrageous taxpayer ripoff which links to the 18 taxing bodies that have the ability to reach into our pockets with very little over sight. How can we allow one of these taxing bodies to spend $3M on an ego renovation without getting our approval? 

Regrettably, when we elected the PD board we gave them that power. As taxpayers we can’t keep track of all these taxing bodies, and their by-laws allow them to take advantage of us. 

We simply have too many taxing bodies in our village, county and state. An independent board and leadership team like the PD that focuses on spending our money is likely to spend a lot of it. The PD should be part of the village taxing authority and then we won’t have as many wasteful, unnecessary expenditures. 

Prior to their dissolution, the PD should take a pass on Anan’s 10% tax reduction and submit a 20% decrease, which is still considerably above the inflation of the last nine years. 

Until the PD no longer exists as a separate taxing authority, they will just do what they do and keep our taxes high. We need taxing-body consolidation and the park district has earned its place as an excellent target. 

David Willey is a longtime village resident and taxpayer. 

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