The message of the two recently approved District 97 referenda is irrational, driven by emotions instead of logic. The underlying assumption of this is that spending more money will produce a better education. The reality is that Oak Park schools, compared to religious schools or public schools in more fiscally responsible communities, are quite financially inefficient in educating our children.

My biggest concern is that the tax increase will affect the diversity, the economic diversity, of Oak Park’s population. People of all races who are barely able to afford their Oak Park homes now could very well be driven out of the village. Those with mortgages will particularly be burdened. Renters will not escape either, as landlords will pass along the increase by increasing rents. For those who can afford the tax increase, they will have less money to spend on family necessities, such as food and medical care.

There is a common belief that a school system with a strong reputation will keep real estate values strong. I believe this is a myth. Compare the taxes of a $400,000 Oak Park home for example, with the taxes of a comparably priced home in Evanston or another fiscally responsible community. Oak Park is becoming less attractive as a place to buy a home, and this could actually drive down home values. Why buy a house in a community that is overtaxed? This could be particularly bad news for homeowners with mortgages. If you need to sell your home and it is worth less than your mortgage, you could end up with a big problem. In short, high taxation is making Oak Park a less attractive place to buy a home. I believe that this is unfortunate.

John Hill

Oak Park

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