Some advocates of OPRF High School’s Project 2 suggest that residents want to fund the $102 million project without a referendum to expedite construction.
Their assertion is spurious. Most of us want to vote on indebtedness for the project. Consider that:
• In 2015, more than 4,300 Oak Park and River Forest voters successfully petitioned to put a $17.5 million bond issue on the ballot. (The D200 board had previously voted to issue non-referendum bonds to funding a controversial multimillion-dollar pool project. Sound familiar?) Consider that 4,300 signed the petition in just over three weeks.
My experience was that people signed the petition without hesitation, including those favoring the project. What’s changed since, other than the proposed project’s size and the amount of indebtedness required to help pay for it?
• In 2020, more than 77% of Oak Park voters agreed in an advisory measure that capital expenditures of $5 million or more should be subject to a binding referendum.
The $5 million limit may be too low, but $102 million certainly is large enough to require a vote.
Moreover, it is only right to seek consent from those who would be taxed well above what’s required for ongoing operations. I would hope that both those who support and oppose Project 2 can agree on that, and I thank the D200 Community Finance Committee members who voiced referendum support at their last meeting.
Oak Park resident for 41 years