Shrubtown November 2, 2016

Opinion: Shrubtown

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By Marc Stopeck

Editorial Cartoonist / Weekly Sales Representative


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Marc Martinez  

Posted: November 6th, 2016 12:17 AM

Mr. Lazarczyk's comments remind me of a car salesperson that wants the buyer to focus on the monthly payments and not the total price in order to make an extravagance seem affordable. He also conveniently ignores the $20 million of excess reserves that should have been returned to taxpayers but will instead be spent on the pool. He prefers to say 'what harm is a little more tax after the 17% increase in the levy that already occurred this year'. That's $17,000 in his last example.

Jack Davidson  

Posted: November 5th, 2016 10:21 PM

Good point Chris, which ties directly to Mr. Grossman's point of opposing the unnecessary expense of a poorly designed project as being unpatriotic. Pathetic we've arrived at this point, but here we are.

Chris Costello  

Posted: November 5th, 2016 4:36 PM

Mr. McCormack: It certainly is a cartoon. They are meant to provoke. Simply because you don't like the authors opinion doesn't make it a "rude insult"

Gene Mc Cormack from oak park  

Posted: November 5th, 2016 3:42 PM

this is not a cartoon .it is a rude insult to the people of oak park.

Leonard Grossman  

Posted: November 4th, 2016 9:32 PM

Marc Captures the essence of the issue. Those of us who oppose the plan are treated almost as if we are unpatriotic. There is a serious question of priorities here.

Byron Lanning  

Posted: November 4th, 2016 8:35 AM

According to the Illinois Report Card for 2016, the percentage of low income students at OPRFHS has fallen from 22% in 2015 to 19.5%, the lowest percentage since at least 2012. The percentage of black students has fallen from 27% in 2012 to 24% in 2016. In D97, the percentage of low income students has fallen to 18%, and the percentage of black students has decreased from 23% in 2012 to 19% in 2016. Perhaps the gentrification of Oak Park from school district taxation and local government subsidised high income housing has begun.

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:14 PM

@Ray, I am neither minimizing nor maximizing; I have simply applied the formula to different scenarios. Did I compute something wrong? @ MN, I am not disputing the difference between taxation levels between Berwyn, Forest Park and Oak Park. I would still prefer to stay in Oak Park despite Berwyn's lower taxes and property values. But, my point is that 0.75% does not seem to be a deal breaker.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 7:39 PM

@JL. You overlook one item - those many vacant storefronts means that no one is making any money. Period. You can't tax "nothingness." You make it seem like our commercial districts are thriving and thus paying a little more in property taxes (or whatever) is no big deal. In the meantime, the Berwyn side of Roosevelt Rd is thriving and the Oak Park side is not. A main differential? Property taxes.

Ray Charleston from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 7:10 PM

Mr. Laraczyk, since you keep minimizing the impact that D200 taxes have on families, I am sure you wouldn't mind picking up my taxes. Where should I send my bill to you?

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 6:48 PM

@MN. I still believe you over dramatize the impact of the bond levy. My example did not take into account that an increase in real estate tax is a business expense for commercial property owners and a deduction for the residential property owners. It will result in an offsetting reduction in federal and state income tax. So, if the business pays $100,000 in real estate taxes, the 0.75% increase amounts to $750 a year. Assuming the business' income passes through to the Owner (as in S corporation) and the Owner is in 25% tax bracket, the net tax increase is $563 or $47 a month. For a corporation that is subject to 35% income tax, the net effect is $41 a month. Like a good accountant, I kept my worksheets to documents my calcs. Again, we are talking 0.75% increase: zero point seventy five hundreds of a percent.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 4:41 PM

@JL. Sadly, many OP & RF commercial property owners pay much more than $50,000 in annual prop taxes. Regardless, the main issue here is the cumulative effect of this tax increase, next years's D97 tax increase, the $60M part II facilities cost for OPRFHS and on and on. We have numerous commercial vacancies today - compared to surrounding communities - and a main reason is our already much higher property taxes.

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 2:45 PM

Mr. Nevins; you are correct that in Cook County commercial properties are assessed at a rate 2 to 2.5 higher than residential properties. Now, the bond issue will increase the taxes by approximately 0.75%. The nominal amount will be different for everybody as our properties have different assessed values. So, a commercial property with a $50,000 tax bill will see an increase of $375 or $32 per month. Say, there are 8 apartments there and if an Owner would like to pass the entire increase, that will amount to $4 per month.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 2:24 PM

Jacek, this is nothing remotely efficient about building a 39,000 square foot (that's 2/3 the size of a football field) one-level, addition to the high school, for a swimming pool. And that is why this has zero to do with space issues, and everything to do with building an oversized pool. And that is why the $12.7M to purchase and demolish the garage, and build a smaller one (61 fewer spaces), when the current one is already at capacity, hence why the school pays $50K a year to the church across the street to rent their lot, is a POOL cost.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 1:29 PM

The effect of a tax increase on commercial properties is double that on residential properties. That means that apartment and business rents will increase for many people in OP & RF.....all for a very, very expensive high school pool. Add in the D97 referendum next year plus the high school plan for $60M more for the facility and....the many vacancies in our communities will only increase. More than 80% of this $45M plan is just for one swimming pool!?! Madness.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:58 AM

Dream on Lynn. Let's see you try and build your mega pool for $21 million? Oh you can't? What a surprise. In order to build your mega pool- a real pool that people can actually swim in - its going to take $37.3 million. How are things in make believe land?

Jeff Evans  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:27 AM

Kline, the link is to a sample, so please don't actually use that one. I am tracking results from each individual sign separately, so I would be happy to create a new one for your purpose. Please visit this URL to request one and I will send you a PDF.

Marc Martinez  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:25 AM

Not the best cartoon. But the main point is right. Three years ago the D200 board grudgingly admitted that they had overtaxed by over $100 million. So they said they would lower taxes to return the money. But after only two years they raised taxes by 17%, in spite of still having over $70 million in excess reserves. And now they have the gall to say that they can use $20 million of it to help pay for the pool, so taxes won't increase much. Never mind that we won't get the excess taxes back. And they explained that they raised taxes because they could do it without a vote by taxpayers. Real nice.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:22 AM

@Jeff, also, is the link for the sample sign that you included in your posted comment and actual sign? Can it be printed out and brought to meetings that we might be attending (book group, bowling leagues, etc)?

Ray Charleston from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:20 AM

So Mr. Lazarczyk, I guess the standard for the pool lobby crowd is that the wisdom of our elected and unpaid board members is unassailable except when they disagree with the pool lobby. In that case, those board members were idiots from the start.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:19 AM

Well kudos to you Jeff Evans, that sounds like an interesting way to conduct some polling on these local issues. Please let us know how it works and what you discover. I'll give it a try. But in case there's a technical glitch, I'm going to VOTE NO.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:13 AM

With more prominent races (ex: U.S. President), there is an abundance of high-quality polling leading up to the election, so we have a pretty good idea on where things stand. When it comes to smaller, local questions (even widely discussed and contentious ones), we don't really have as much data. The D200 referendum on this November's ballot provides a perfect opportunity to try to gather that data. I'm doing a small experiment in conducting polling for such questions via signs that are placed around town. People can use their smartphones to scan one of two QR codes on the sign to indicate which way they plan to vote on the question, or visit a predefined URL if they don't have access to a code scanner. After the election, I will analyze the data and try to evaluate how feasible this approach is, aggregate and chart the data, and correlate my results with those of local polling places. Although I have my own personal position on this referendum, this project is not biased by that in any way. Despite some efforts at the farmers' market, and reaching out to various businesses and local public entities, I have run into difficulties finding places to post these signs. If you have access to a bulletin board, front desk, table, etc. that gets a lot of foot traffic from people who are likely to be residents of Oak Park or River Forest, and you are interested in helping, I'd love to hear from you. Please reach out to me directly (via private message) and I will generate a single-page sign that you can print out and post. If you have any other questions or concerns about the project, feel free to reach out as well (via the link below). You can see a sample of the sign here:

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 11:06 AM

@Brian, it is unfortunate that this parking garage was built the way it was. It occupies a lot of real estate for 300 some spaces. That is a wasteful use of land. Rebuilding it makes sense to me; it allows the school to use available space more efficiently.

Brian Souders  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 10:29 AM

The pool in the real facilities plan costs an estimated $21.4 million. But it cannot be built without tearing down and rebuilding the parking garage for another $15 million. So the real total for the pool project alone is $37 million - as much as a full middle school or library. I'm not sure why yes supporters keep trying to confuse people with this.

Lynn Kamenitsa  

Posted: November 2nd, 2016 9:54 AM

The pool in the real facilities plan costs $21.4 million. It is only by moving the pool outside of the current building that the plan makes space for the performing arts, Driver Ed, a classroom in the south end, new boys' PE locker rooms (that have to be rebuilt to meet code).

Barbara Purington  

Posted: November 1st, 2016 8:03 PM

Editorial cartoonist nailed it. The "One Love, One Heart, Kum Bai Ya" days in Oak Park are over.

Ray Charleston from Oak Park  

Posted: November 1st, 2016 6:41 PM

I am shocked there is Editor's Note. That said, this is the most accurate of Mr. Stopek's cartoons on the Taj Mapool. Well done.

Melanie Joyce Halvorson from Oak Park  

Posted: November 1st, 2016 6:18 PM

This cartoon fails to be funny or satirical. It is simply insulting and offensive. Poorly done.

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