The two Oak Park advisory referendum questions regarding the financial practices of local taxing bodies each passed by an overwhelming margin with roughly three quarters of electorates casting affirmative votes, according to election data from the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
The first referendum recommended limiting the operating cash balance of Oak Park taxing bodies and having any excess money returned to taxpayers: “Shall the Operating Cash Balances of local Oak Park Governments be limited to one-half year’s Operating Expenses, as measured at the start of the fiscal year, with the excess returned as soon as possible to the taxpayers through temporarily lowered taxes?”
Out of 21,384 votes cast in Oak Park’s 37 precincts, 74.27 percent voted in favor of the referendum.
The second referendum proposed necessitating Oak Park taxing bodies obtain voter approval on certain capital expenditures: “Shall any capital expenditure of $5 million or more by any local taxing body within Oak Park be subject to a binding referendum for approval or rejection by the voters?”
That referendum passed by an even higher margin, with 77.24 percent of voters casting “YES” votes out of 21,384 votes cast.
These numbers will certainly thrill Oak Park resident Kevin Peppard, who sponsored both referenda during the Oak Park Township’s annual meeting last July.
All referenda brought to the ballot through that process are entirely advisory in nature, meaning they are non-binding, despite the Peppard’s use of the word “binding” in the second referenda. As such, local taxing bodies are under no legal obligation to operate in accordance with either of the two that passed this November.
With their passing, Oak Park voters have done little more than send the message that residents are unhappy with high tax levies and large spending projects; the taxing bodies can continue to tax and spend as they see fit.