The Facebook group Oak Park Property Tax Watch launched in October and has since attracted more than 600 members.

After months of discussing Oak Park’s tax burden online, resident James Peters, who is a member of the group, said it was time for residents to discuss property taxes face-to-face.

Peters said in a telephone interview that he does not speak for the group, but wanted to hold the forum in an effort “to put our arms around (the issue of rising property taxes) and see where it might lead.”

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11 at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.

Peters said he has never met Gregory Francis, who is listed as the founder of the Facebook group, adding “my suspicion is that Facebook pages are really not the right venue for people who want to take action.”

“I’m trying to bring together any of those people and see what rattles out of it,” he said.

Peters, who owns a 3-bedroom bungalow in south Oak Park, said he became interested in the group because of the increasing property taxes in Oak Park. “My wife and I would like to stay here as we age,” he said.

Kitty Conklin, another Oak Park resident who has been a frequent commenter in the group, tells Wednesday Journal that she became interested because property taxes have increased more than 100 percent in less than 13 years.

“I do not believe that the governing boards of the six taxing bodies in Oak Park are looking out to preserve an environment that encourages all types of diversity among its citizens because of the abundance of taxation,” she said.

Conklin said she believes many have become concerned about property taxes as a result of the failed effort to finance construction of a new pool facility at Oak Park and River Forest High School and the decision by the board of School District 97 this year to continue collecting some $2.5 million in property taxes in excess of what referendum voters had been promised when the vote was taken last year. The district will, again this year, use the added funds to pay off bond debt.

“It swung people’s sentiment from, ‘Sure, I’ll keep writing the check to pay the taxes,’ to ‘Hey, time out, this has got to stop,'” Conklin said.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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