Work is just getting started on the new Oak Park village government Taxing Body Efficiency Task Force, which held its first organizational meeting on March 20 at the village’s Public Works Building, 201 South Boulevard.
Former Oak Park Village President David Pope, who is president of the Oak Park Residence Corporation, was chosen to chair the seven-member commission, which plans to hold two meetings a month over the next five months.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. at the public works building.
The task force is charged with finding cost efficiencies among Oak Park’s various taxing bodies; the group was established by village trustees largely in response to the rising tax burden in the village.
Task force members will search for possible efficiencies like making bulk purchases on office supplies between government entities to achieve economies of scale and reduce cost.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room, however, is the question of whether the village should pursue consolidation with Oak Park Township, a government entity that provides services including the local tax assessor and senior and youth services.
Task force member John Hedges, who served 20 years as executive director of the Park District of Oak Park, among many other civic positions, said the topic of merging the village and township is nothing new in Oak Park.
“That idea comes up about every eight to 10 years,” he said, noting it is but one of the topics that will be addressed at the meetings.
He said the village has sought efficiencies with other taxing bodies, noting that School District 97 already shares space in the Public Works Department.
Pope said the task force will solicit recommendations from residents and business owners in the village, but he declined to voice his thoughts on the township consolidation question or any other specific efficiencies he hopes to see the task force discuss.
“I don’t have a set perspective on any of these issues at this point, since we haven’t collectively determined what we’re going to be looking at and what the underlying information would be that would relate to those issues,” he said.
The five other members of the task force are:
Brian Chang, a pathologist at Northwestern Medicine Delnor-Community Hospital and former commissioner on the village’s Environment and Energy Commission.
Joi Cregler, a tax attorney for Holland & Knight and former member of the village’s 2014-15 Fair Housing Task Force.
Judy Greffin, a former executive vice president and chief investment officer at Allstate and board member of the Community Foundation of Oak Park and River Forest.
Gary E. McCullough, a board member of TransDigm Group, Inc., who has served in a number of executive-level positions at various companies.
Jim Peters, a 42-year resident of Oak Park resident and organizer for the community group Oak Park Property Tax Watch.
More information about the task force members is available at https://www.oak-park.us/your-government/village-board/taxing-body-efficiency-task-force/taxing-body-efficiency-task-force.
* This story was updated to correct information about Judy Greffin’s position at Allstate.