Dear board members of D97, D200, park district, library, and village,

Forgo expiring TIF money. It’s not yours. Your budgets have long been and remain ample, with no undue financial stress, yet you maintain an insatiable appetite for new tax money. Live within your budgets! Opt only for nominal levy increases tied to inflation. The money from the expiring TIFs needs to be returned to the taxpayers you are causing undue financial stress. 

We need a tax cut. Forgoing expiring TIF money is an easy way of doing that without having to make the budget cuts you seem to abhor.

Kudos to the Oak Park Village Board for choosing not to capture the approximate $114,000,000 in new EAV, and holding their levy increase to 3 percent.

What have the rest of you been up to?

District 97: Already has money galore!

2017 – $15.9 million tax increase ($13.3 million referendum, $2.6 million from preventable windfall associated with referendum) 

2019 – $5.7 million from expiring TIFs ($5.3 million from expiring TIFs plus $400K from new taxable property) 

$21,600,000 = amount of increased D97 taxes in just the past 2.5 years, has an insatiable appetite for more tax money, proven unwillingness of the board to live within a budget and impose fiscal discipline. The board couldn’t run their own personal budgets this way.

District 200: Already has money galore! Seeks $800,000 from expiring TIFs and new taxable property. Already overtaxed us for a decade, building up a $125 million surplus, much of which is still on hand. Has aspirations of a $218,000,000 master facility overhaul including a $63 million pool. Insatiable desire for more money, no appetite for doing the work of a board to impose fiscal discipline. Could not run their own personal budget this way.

Park District: Seeks $315,000 from expiring TIFS and a 1.9% levy increase, congratulates itself for increasing the levy by two-tenths of a percent less compared to increases the past two years. Hint: don’t take the $315,000, live within your existing budget and levy increase. Look for reduction of PD services redundant with those offered at nominal charge by private organizations such as OPYBS, AYSO (which offer need-based help and pay fees to the park district), and by D97 and D200 programs and summer camps.

Library: Seeks a 9.98% levy increase or about $700,000, including money from expiring TIFs even though library construction debt will be paid off in 2020. That has been running approximately $1,000,000 per year. The $1,000,000 in tax money that has been collected toward that debt will continue to flow to the library in perpetuity despite no debt expense against it after 2020. The library wants to keep that $1 million per year and take $700,000 in expiring TIF money. And the library perceives the need to build a recording studio? In an era where kids can record cheaply at home and where OPRF High School already has a broadcast facility? How many do we need? What about indoor skydiving, a merry-go-round and a petting zoo? Stop the concierge services mentality. Forgo the TIF money, live with a modest levy increase and reduce your tax levy by $1 million per year once construction debt payments end.

$7,515,000 – the combined amount of expiring TIF tax money to be taken by D97, D200, park district, and library, and it does not include levy increases!

Your have-our-cake-and-eat-it-too approach to taxing is harming real people. It is working palpably against diversity, equity, property values, and people’s ability to stay in their own home. It is causing people to avoid buying homes here. It tears at the fabric of a community that still has third and fourth generations living here. That sense of community is being decimated. So why are you doing this?

Jack Powers

Oak Park

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