In 1977, when I purchased my first home in Oak Park, lawyer friends in the real estate tax appeals area told me to expect my real estate taxes to run around 2.5% of the fair market value of my property. So they did, and they still do. I appeal the valuation most triennia, but the annual tax bill still runs in the area of 2.5% of value. 

Based on that, my inclination is to demur from the common perception that taxes on Oak Park homes are too high and people can’t afford them. OP taxes have always been stiff due to the lack of an industrial and commercial tax base, but the taxes are no more burdensome than they were 40 years ago. Folks who can afford the house can afford the taxes. Folks who can’t afford the taxes can’t afford the house. 

Yes, there is probably fat and waste in some taxing districts. The bigger issue is our fractionated system of government which assures that no one has bottom-line authority to control taxes and that every taxing district can blame the others for perceived excesses. Your remedy is at the ballot box, and only at the ballot box. There are, in fact, taxing authorities that are serious about cost containment and prioritizing. District 97 comes to mind, as does the village of Oak Park (unless the irresponsibly expensive Ike-cap project goes forward). As for the rest — OPRF High School comes to mind — either show up and vote or kiss that 2.5% rule of thumb goodbye. 

Bob Stigger

Oak Park

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