Over the past decade, Oak Park’s village government has been the steadying hand among local taxing bodies in working to contain rising property taxes. This is a village where the property tax load has reached a point of saturation, where we lose residents when their children are post-high school as taxpayers seek relief from the burden of those taxes even as we price many people of more modest means from ever gaining a point of entry in home ownership here.
It has primarily been the two school districts, with assists from the libraries and the parks, which have driven up property taxes. And it is the public schools that consume the vast portion of local property taxes.
Village government’s share of property taxes is modest — though village hall has myriad other ways to impose taxes and fees beyond property taxes.
That said, village government has tempered property tax increases by adopting the annual goal of holding its property tax hikes to 3% or less each year. And it has done that. By embedding the tax cap in its biennial goals, the village board has, to this point, clearly declared to its staff, its constituents and itself that fiscal restraint is as critical a goal as equity, sustainability, public safety or garbage collection.
Right now the village board is in the process of setting its goals for the coming two years. It appears that the 3% spending cap will not be among those goals.
This is a mistake. It should be corrected.
All of the other goals, worthy and essential, are predicated on the village government being financially sound so it can provide the resources to reach that goal.
Over the past three years covering two election cycles, Oak Park’s village board has become fully aligned in support of fairly progressive ideals. That’s fine. It is what voters have chosen. But the board has largely lost voices that sought fiscal accountability. Dropping the 3% tax cap from its goals is a reflection of that.
There is still time to reconsider. Moreover, it is important that all members of the village board take responsibility for including fiscal responsibility in every decision this board makes.
Courageous Lloyd Yates
Lloyd Yates, a star quarterback at OPRF between 2011 and 2015, deserves immense credit for stepping forward and filing suit against Northwestern University and its football program. Yates, a member of the Northwestern team for multiple years, was the first former player to put his name to the horrendous allegations of sexually focused hazing within that program.
It takes courage to put yourself in the public eye for reasons such as this. And as he hoped, his action has led many others, and beyond just the football program, to speak out about this horror.
Thanks to this OPRF grad for bringing his dignity and his values to this unfolding story.