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Park Board Commisioner’s Residency Questioned

Commissioner Leonard Wass’ primary residence is in doubt by fellow commissioners.

To have a seat on the Oswegoland Park District board, one’s primary residence must be within the boundaries of the district. 

Park Board commissioners, who are often at odds with fellow Commissioner Len Wass, claim that Wass, elected to the Park Board in April 2011, does not consider Oswego his primary residence.

At the Park Board meeting last week during the board's tax levy discussion, Wass was vocal for cutting the tax levy by 20 percent, while the rest of the board wanted the levy unchanged.

During the conversation, Wass told the public gathered at the meeting, “They want me off the board so they don’t have to hear me stand up for you.”

That remark sparked a discussion of Wass’ primary residence. Board President Bob Mattingly tried to explain the situation to the public. He and commissioner Deb Krase had discovered earlier in the year that Wass had declared his primary residence to be in Somonauk, which is in LaSalle County.

But earlier he had declared his home in Oswego, on Adams Street, to be his primary residence.

Wass told the Aurora Beacon News this week that he named the Somonauk home as his primary residence for tax purposes and that he votes, lives and was elected in Oswego. Wass said he’s discussed the matter with his lawyers and all say his residency claim for Oswego is legal.

During the tax levy discussion Wass suggested one way to save the district money.

“You want cost savings?” he asked. “Stop spending money investigating me. There’s your cost savings.”

Mattingly told the Beacon the cost so far to the district to study Wass' residency has been about about $1,500.

Tim November 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
And even though there are 28 counties with a higher rate of tax, there are not 28 other counties with 'tax protests'... Why do you think that is?
Pat Stiles November 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The median property tax in Illinois is $3,507.00 per year for a home worth the median value of $202,200.00. Illinois counties collect an average of 1.73% of a property's estimated fair market value as property tax. Illinois has one of the highest average property tax rates in the country, with only six states levying higher property taxes. Illinois's median income is $68,578 per year - the average yearly property tax paid by Illinois residents amounts to 5.11% of their yearly income. Illinois is ranked 5th of the 50 states for property taxes as a percentage of median income.
mike ellison November 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Not only that, but these numbers can be misleading. In the large unincorporated areas of Kendall county there are some services that homeowners pay for separately and are not included in property taxes. I know that most of those areas pay separately for trash pickup and I'm not sure what else the Village of Oswego pays for on behalf of its residents that is not included in the unincorporated areas. But by the time you add in the cost of at least hundreds of dollars per year for refuse then the unincorporated areas have an even higher 'effective' tax rate. Also, those numbers don't figure in the cost of things such as taking classes at the Park District. There might be other areas in the state/country with higher park district taxes, for example, but with lower user fees that offest those taxes. The Ledger did a comparison years ago and showed that the unincorporated areas were more expensive to live in as compared to the villages and cities in Kendall County. It's especially true because the unincorporated areas have been pulled through mud with Oswego's incompetent management of the building boom. We can't vote for anyone in Oswego government, yet have been assaulted by increased taxes as a result of them decidin that every cornfield had to have houses in it.
Dave Ruggles November 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM
In Oswego, the garbage is paid for as part of our water bill. It is not part of the property tax bill. The village pays nothing for my garbage pick up. The negotiate the rate that every resident pays, but we pay it.
Dave Ruggles November 27, 2012 at 08:37 PM
One reason the unincorporated areas are more expensive, is that they lack the bargaining power the city has when negotiating things like garbage and electric bills. While the residents pay these individually, the village has been able to get the prices down because of the collective buying power of all the residents. Individuals who aren't in the village have to deal with the disadvantage of no real negotiating power and pay more. This does not mean that the unincorporated areas have a higher effective tax rate. These items are paid for individually and not as part of any tax.

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