Election season begins

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The 2019 election season has begun in Oak Park. Ten days back, a group loosely aligned around their opposition to the Albion high rise at Lake and Forest met just down the street at the main library. They have taken the name Voice. One of the founders described it as an "organizational meeting" with an eye on the spring 2019 village board elections. 

There will be three spots on the village board up for election. So far, none of the incumbents — Bob Tucker, Andrea Button or Jim Taglia — have publicly announced their plans.

Also unknown are the future plans of the Village Manager Association, the once dominant VMA, which spent decades scaring off or crushing opposition to its diversity, economic development and good government mantra. The VMA, decimated in the election 15 months ago, owes us a head nod if it intends to climb off the mat.

Is Ray Johnson, the former VMA trustee, ready to retire from his corporate sanctuary in Brooklyn and return home for a run? Well likely not until he can run for village president in 2021. (And, yes, we're just stirring the pot here.)

We'd be surprised if there isn't some electoral version of the Oak Park Property Tax Watch, a Facebook and in-person gather up of people alarmed by rising property tax burdens in the village. Whether their potential electoral thunder ought to be directed at village hall or Oak Park and River Forest High School is a question still to be answered.

Who else? Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, re-elected without opposition in 2017, may want to get into the slate-making business, seeking out pro-development, government efficiency and public safety supporters. If he doesn't find allies, or convince his current colleagues to re-up, he may have a very lonely final two years as mayor.

All that said, whoever runs for the village board has to be running toward something. Voice can't just be against anything taller than 60 feet. Nobody cares about the VMA's 70-year legacy. Truly, nobody cares. The Property Tax Watch people might really want to focus on the public schools as that is where the great bulk of property taxes are deposited.

And Abu-Taleb needs a tagline broader than "We're open for business."

By fall we'll be moving into declaration and petition passing mode. Every election counts. But we see 2019 as a defining year for Oak Park and its future.

Reader Comments

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Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: May 30th, 2018 10:46 AM

Brian S.: TIFs get 100% of the tax rate applied to the increment in EAV created. Property owners within the TIF district do not get any reduction in taxes. They pay the same taxes they would have, but a portion is diverted to the TIF fund, for its own uses. This is the part that the schools etc. would have gotten, and must make up.

Brian Souders  

Posted: May 29th, 2018 4:55 PM

Rick, Kevin: In simpler terms, don't the TIFs take 50% away from the taxes from that region that go to the village, school, township and park district and library and put it into that TIF area enhancement account? So these entities don't collect everything they're owed, and to meet their budgets, they raise the taxes across the board. And even when the TIF expires, it's not like those entities lower their taxes when they get their 50% diversion restored.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2018 3:04 PM

Rick B: TIFs raise taxes if the various districts have needed expenses that require higher rates, since the TIF Equalized Assessed Value is not accessible to them until years later. California invented TIFs decades ago, and is now in the process of phasing them out, due to abuses. They can serve as a slush fund for Municipalities that want to play business savants (they often fail). Tom M: a wealth of info on TIFs in Cook County is available on David Orr's County Clerk's website, where he is an opponent of them, by and large.

Rick Boultinghouse  

Posted: May 29th, 2018 11:42 AM

Tom MacMillan, as I understand it, TIF's are created to spur economic development and do so by designating a portion of the existing property tax (typically 50%) within in a TIF district to be used for economic development within the TIF district. They don't raise our property taxes per se, they merely take that portion of the taxes and pool those dollars for some future use. That future use can be problematic in how those dollars are spent and to what degree we as tax payers have a say in that distribution and use, but in and of itself, TIF's don't raise our taxes.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2018 8:57 AM

The TIFFs are another huge factor in why we are all paying more property taxes. Someday a local paper might take the time to explain how many of them there are and how they work in great detail so people could start understanding what is happening to them on that.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: May 23rd, 2018 6:06 PM

How about "We're open for beeswax" Isn't there beekeeping going on at the Public Works building? instead of Anan's tagline 'We're open for business.'"

Adam Salzman  

Posted: May 23rd, 2018 3:53 PM

Dan, Ray Johnson lives in Queens, not Brooklyn! (You are welcome, Ray.)

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