The Village of Oak Park’s Taxing Bodies Efficiency Task Force is set to present a wide range of recommendations to the Oak Park Board of Trustees at tonight’s board meeting, including a moratorium on tax hike referendums until 2030, containing all property tax hikes to CPI and creation of a citizen-led financial oversight commission that would monitor and advise all taxing bodies while also educating residents on municipal finance issues.

The recommendations will be presented at tonight’s Oak Park Village Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

Rapidly rising property taxes are forcing residents out of the village, according to the report, which notes that the increases have substantially outpaced both the rate of inflation and the growth in household income.

“It poses risks to both current Oak Park residents and to the long-term viability of Oak Park’s core values of diversity, affordability and integration,” the report states. “More recently, we’re seeing this increase in our taxes as a significant impediment to the ability of residents being able to age in place as people are increasingly being taxed out of their homes.”

Oak Park’s increase in property taxes also has “dramatically outpaced other communities and is putting Oak Park at a competitive disadvantage,” according to the report.

The task force was established earlier this year by the Oak Park Board of Trustees and has been viewed skeptically by other taxing bodies, such as Oak Park Township, Oak Park Public Library and the Park District of Oak Park, primarily due to the discussion of consolidating those taxing bodies under the umbrella of the village.

In July, the Oak Park Board of Trustees voted to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot asking: “Shall the merger and consolidation of Oak Park taxing bodies be considered, including, but not limited to, the Village of Oak Park, Oak Park Township, the Oak Park Public Library and the Park District of Oak Park, to determine if there would be efficiencies, the elimination of redundancies and/or property tax reduction for the residents of Oak Park?”

That ballot question is not legally binding but will give the Village of Oak Park direction on whether to pursue consolidation of the various taxing bodies.

The recommendations from the task force, released on Sept. 30, goes much further than consolidation, though, calling on taxing entities to limit tax levy increases to the rate of inflation or less, constraining salary increases for public employees and creating a new citizen-led Community Financial Oversight Commission.

It calls on governing bodies to not pursue future tax-increase referenda through 2030. This comes as Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 is working on drafting a long-term facilities plan that may require the need for a multi-million referendum at some future date.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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