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Park Board Passes Levy with 5 Percent Reduction From Previous Year

Commissioners hear from Kendall County Tax Revolt members before vote.

After intense public commentary and discussion between commissioners, the Oswegoland Park District Board voted to approve this year’s tax levy with a reduction of 5 percent from last year.

Prior to the tax levy discussion, several community members spoke in support of a Kendall County non-binding 20 percent levy reduction that 71 percent of voters approved Election Day.

Jan Alexander, a member of the  Kendall County Property Tax Revolt, said she wanted the park board to take the cuts seriously.

“Your services don’t save lives,” she said. “We want some cuts.”

Oswego resident Richard Ayers added that the “board doesn’t have proper respect for citizens.”

Another resident,, Dave Peterson, said he felt the park district wasn’t a luxury and that in  “these challenging times, the park district is where families can go for a high-quality program and provides a place for our kids to do things and have role models.” He said the levy should remain the same.

Board President Bob Mattingly agreed.

“If we cut our levy by 20 percent, or $1.1 million, that’s $1.1 million we will never see again,” he said, as the board could never tax current residents at the same amount. “I cannot give up $1.1 milion forever. I can’t do that to the kids and parents and the people who use our facilities.”

He said by keeping the levy the same it would cost about an extra $1 a month to the taxpayer.

Commisioner Leonard Wass wanted the board to make the 20 percent cut and proposed ways cuts could be made, including the selling of a house owned by the park district.

“If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem,” he said.

Commisioner Roy White eventually suggested a compromise of a 5 percent levy reduction for a “show of good faith.” The reduced levy would save taxpayers about $275,000. Mattingly said he had no problem with that reduction, a thought echoed by commissioner Debra Krause, who seconded the motion put forth by White.

The board vote 4-1 in favor of the 5 percent reduction, with Mattingly, Krause, White and Ebersole voting in approval and Wass voting against.

Oswegosmarts November 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM
A show of good faith. Are we dealing with a hostage situation or do these people work for us?
Dave Ruggles November 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM
They do work for us, all of us. People who have families that use the district, people who understand that the best way to provide these services is through a public body and people that understand that a one time sale of a maybe $300,000 house doesn't justify or pay for a permanent $1 million cut.
Michelle Simmons November 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM
People wake up! Every area has to cut including the park district. This talk of giving up ail lion we will never see again, there is a good percentage of our town that is foreclosed homes! Times are different now and everyone must recognize that there isn't any more money, residents can't afford pay any more, or even the exsisting taxes.
Tim November 20, 2012 at 02:27 PM
$1 a month. These people are fighting over $1 a month? It cost more in gas for them to drive to this meeting to complain about saving $1/month. One of these boards needs to stand up to this nonsense and tell these people to get over themselves. Until then, we get to watch these financial rejects shoot themselves in the foot by trying to force budget cuts that will actually COST them money, not save them money. Because they obviously have NO IDEA how much the park district contributes to their home value. I can assure you, it is more than $1 a month.
Louie November 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM
They are cutting by 5% but we are borrowing 3.5 million to renovate Winrock Pool. I know the park district makes money on swim lessons but I don't think it's enough to support a 3.5 million renovation. So are we going to pay a special bond for the pool, does the park district have enough to cover the loan...or are we just raising the tax rate by 5% next year to start paying off the pool?
Ralph November 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
http://oswego.patch.com/articles/localize-october-home-sales-708fe8a5 Michelle- please read the attached. Since you are in favor of this, i would urge you to do your part...Never visit a park, never sign yourself or one of your kids up for a park program. The parks is about 5% of the tax bill. Cost less than a trip to the movies a month for my family, really...like $25 / month, and you want to chop it down... you and the 20% crew are going to destroy what value is left in this town. When they cancel preschool, or eliminate soccer or don't have gymnastics anymore its you we will have to thank.
Oswegosmarts November 20, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Heres a few ideas. First off it not about a number 20% . It's about being fiscally responsible. Start contracting out services. The Golf course, the cutting of the parks(every other district in the area does). no more free golf and meals for board memebers and thier families, and neighbors, and friends. I realize that this would create layoff's and board memebers and employees wouldn't be able to give thier family mebers summer jobs. But how do you justify an employee $18.00-$20.00 an hour plus benifits, plus a pension to mow grass like Forest Gump. And the entitlements that board members and high ranking employees enjoy with our tax dollars. Contracting out would also create a bidding process to get the lowest most quailfied bidder to do these services. No more equiptment purchase, no more garage to repair the equiptment. It goes on and on.
mike ellison November 20, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Simple fact is that the majority of residents want a 20% cut. It should be made. Those of you who like those sorts of services need to pay for them yourselves. Usually, gov't agencies don't have such direct input from its citizens so they have to run their office/agency in such a way that reflects what they think are the desires of its residents. But in this situation it has been made clear to them that the majority of residents wanted a 20% cut.
Logansdad November 20, 2012 at 05:35 PM
"Simple fact is that the majority of residents want a 20% cut. It should be made." The question on the ballot was a non-binding referendum. How was the 20% number determined? Why not a 15%, 25% or 50% cut? Fact is the majority of people, if given the chance, would want to pay no taxes.
Jane Enviere November 20, 2012 at 08:02 PM
@Logansdad - LMAO at the not paying taxes. How true, right? I'm always amused by the people who sound like they belong off the grid somewhere fending for themselves without a pesky government to do anything for them. Weird that they choose to live in Oswego. 20% is ridiculous. Glad the park board took a more reasonable and reasoned approach.
Logansdad November 20, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Jane, I hear you. The people that put the question on the ballot act as if they have some sort of mandate. Didn't these people learn anything from the federal government. Everyone is in agreement that taxes need to be cut, but when you start looking at individual programs no one wanted their sacred cow cut. To flat out say cut 20% from everything without even looking at the details is just ridiculous. I also agree in what you are saying. How many of the people that currently live in Oswego where here 15 years ago when there was practically nothing. How do these people expect to pay for new services and growing programs if taxes are not raised?
Oswego Resident November 20, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I dont think we should be paying for a new winrock pool. The place is in good shape and could maybe use a little upgrading on the bathroom areas and has plenty of space to add a kiddie pool off to the side. Tearing it all up and starting over is ridiculous. I have paid a lot of money for my kids to participate in many programs and sometimes I feel that the level is service is very poor. I would like my money to be spent on useful things like proper training for instructors. On a positive note I am happy that for the most part our parks are in good shape but we should be planting a lot more trees.
Ralph November 20, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Winrock is in good shape? That is hilarious. You clearly have not had a kid is swim lessons there for many years. Saw this on the Beacon... http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/16517582-417/oswegoland-park-board-contesting-residency-of-commissioner.html Is Wass attempting to claim to be a champion of the taxed, while attempting to evade paying taxes? Primary homestead exemption means primary...you can not have multiple primary residences can you? Wouldn't he have to be primary residence in oswego to be elected to oswego parks?
Jeri November 20, 2012 at 11:14 PM
By putting up the budget and all expenditures on line and disclosed would help. The meeting times are always easy for the board. Have them video taped. Why is this house not for sale? Sounds like an unimportant asset. Everyone has a spending problem but I am not confident of the ability to rectify the situation.
mike ellison November 21, 2012 at 08:21 AM
Fact is, the referendum was for 20% and the majority of people wanted that reduction. Got a problem with living in a democracy?
Dave Ruggles November 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Fact is, take any basic research or public opinion class and you will understand why the referendum couldn't be binding. Take a little time to research voting science and you will see that all sorts of things can be voted on that don't typically reflect the will of the people. In fact, as I recall from history, that is why the founding fathers made the US a republic not a true democracy. Now, either you know this and choose to ignore it to advance your political agenda, or you haven't taken the time to educate yourself.
Jeri November 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM
video tape meeting and online disclosure of budget and all expenditures. List all assets and their purpose like that house. Too simple? Too much direct information ? Expenditures and fees. This includes kid connection all aspects. Maybe we should put on the ballot that taxpayers want a clear fully divulged accounting of everything. then maybe our voted in representatives would say "its non binding, go to all these meetings between your jobs, or you can also use the freedom of information act" , please fill out all this paperwork and pay for it and our office is open during your work time. Who pays your wages! Its all in our voted in people's attitudes.
Tim November 22, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Or you could, you know, let the public officials do their jobs that they were elected to do. What fantasy world do you live in where your county has not been leading or nearly leading the entire country in foreclosures? These are the same majority you want to be in change of the fiscal health of your county? The majority of your fellow residents did not know how to see they were walking into an unsustainable fiscal mess when moving to the area, but now you expect them to be able to tabulate the finances for every governing body in the district going forward? You are well on the pat to destroying what little value is left in your tiny Exurb, and the worst thing is that you think you are doing the exact opposite of that. If you can't afford it, the answer is not to destroy it for everyone. The answer is to move to a place you can afford, and not try to shift the burden of your poor choices onto everyone else, instead of placing it squarely on yourself where it belongs.
Dave Ruggles November 22, 2012 at 01:33 PM
The purpose of that house is to expand the most popular park in the area. Have you been to Hudson Park on a nice day. It is packed. The idea, from my understanding, was to give the community additional space in that park, because the demand was exceeding the availability. It was purchased with grant funding. Not local property taxes. Yes those funds came from taxes we paid, but they would have gone to a different community if they hadn't come here. So it didn't cost the local taxpayer any additional funds. The project was put on hold because the funding was drying up. Whenever I have had a specific question, it has been answered specifically by the park district staff. As for the Park District office hours, more hours would mean larger expenditures, are you willing to have that? At the last Board meeting they changed the time until the evening to see if more people will show up. I do agree that all public bodies should have online line-item budgets not summaries. However, if you raise a specific issue, it is addressed. As for kid connection, I don't understand the conspiracy theory on this. In fact, I know of at least one family that didn't use it because they could find other daycare cheaper. It is open to everyone in the district, provides a safe and reliable solution for working families and is well regarded by the people who have used it. If there are specific issues (not I don't think we should do this) let's get them out and answered.
russ harrison November 22, 2012 at 03:02 PM
You shoot for 20-% and hope for 5%...duh! No one actually expects an instant 20% cut, but they do demand that the "spend now and we'll get the money later" way of doing business stops...as in right now. An immediate 5% or possibly 10% reduction in costs is achievable without cutting programs in any drastic manner. So, for folks who believe that this is simply a manner of people not wanting to pay an extra dollar a month in their taxes, you are mistaken. This is about not WASTING as much money as has been happening on the past. Eliminate waste and institute a program of frugality and the reduction is there. BTW> Frugal does not mean cheap or sub-par..it means getting the most for your dollar, a goal that has NOT been achieved by most of our local government entities.
Dave Ruggles November 22, 2012 at 03:28 PM
That is what they got, and considered acceptable by many. It did not satisfy Commissioner Wass and some of the audience members. They wanted twenty percent and expressed no concern over programming. If you really studied the proposal it would translate into a long term reduction of closer to 28%. Again, no concern about programming. The focus on efficiency and frugality is fine, but this drive to cut without concern about impact is not in the best interest of anyone.
Karen Gerrity November 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM
The voters spoke loud and clear, we want our tax reduction at 20%. If more homes are foreclosed upon there will be no one left to afford the park dist. There is always waste and ways to cut expenses. If the taxpayers have to do it, so does the gov't and taxing bodies. I, for one am thankful for Commisioner Len Wass and his possibly lone voice on the board speaking for the tax payers that voted for this referendum. Everyone can't make it to the meetings, but if you voted in favor of this referendum, you have a voice in Commisioner Len Wass. The 5% is a start and I think the remaining commisioners should listen to the will of the taxpayers. We cannot continue to Spend, spend, spend. We voted the current commisioners in and we can vote them out.
Greg O'Neil December 01, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Tim, thank God you aren't in charge of anything. You are absolutely clueless. Why don't you run for something? I'm glad you live somewhere else, maybe you should try annoying your own community with your cheap shot, two bit analysis because no one around here really cares what you think.
Dave Ruggles December 01, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Russ voted for 20%, hoping for 5% and got it. I don't believe there is 20% of waste at the park district, and I have not seen it identified.

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