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Senior Services Tax Levy Referendum Will Be Put to a Vote April 5

Registered voters in attendance at a special Oswego Township Board meeting voted 53-29 to put the special levy on the ballot.

When it comes to whether taxpayers of will pay more in taxes to help fund senior services, voters will have the final say.

A special meeting of the Township Board was called Tuesday night to determine whether a special tax levy would be placed on the April 5 ballot, and in compliance with law, a vote was taken of the registered voters in attendance. After the measure passed by a margin of 53-29, the question will appear on the ballot in less than three months.

If the referendum is approved in April, the tax levy will have the owner of a $200,000 home paying an additional $14 a year in taxes. The tax levy will collect about $300,000 annually.

The Oswego Senior Center, which is hoping to receive up to $160,000 of that money each year, was well-represented at the meeting with supporters of placing the measure on the ballot. Bob Wyngard, executive director of Oswegoland Seniors Inc., which runs the Senior Center, said he was happy with the vote. However, he said he sees a lot of work ahead to convince voters of the need for additional funding for the center, especially in difficult economic times.

"I think we have a lot of work to do, and we're looking forward to getting the word out to the voting public about what we do and how we do it," Wyngard said. "What this vote tonight tells me is that there's some misinformation out there and we've got to work to correct that."

Before the vote was taken, residents on both sides of the issue made their cases before the overflow audience assembled in the Township Highway garage. Speakers were limited to two minutes each.

"As a very senior citizen, I'm ashamed to be part of a group that's asking the community to buy my lunch," said resident Judd Peter. "Yes, there are some who need help and I think we ought to help them ... but to ask everyone to pay for a segment of the population is a shameful waste of taxpayer dollars."

Wyngard, who addressed the crowd first, said the township, even though it has the legal authority to do so, has never asked taxpayers for a tax levy to fund senior services.

"Senior citizens have paid tens of millions of property tax dollars in the last 20 years alone," he said. "It seems like it's a really good idea therefore to treat seniors as well as we have when we've raised taxes to support schools, roads, water towers, people in jail and people on welfare."

Resident Tom Todd followed Wyngard, saying he supports helping people in need, but he's not sure the need is truly there.

"If I was a millionaire and I wanted to take my wife to the Senior Center for lunch or to go play for the afternoon, I'm asking people on hard times to chip in a little bit of their tax dollars so I can drive my Cadillac to go get a subsidized meal or an afternoon of entertainment," he said.

Wyngard has said the money is needed to shore up holes the center's $260,000 annual budget. The center relies on grants, donations and funding from the federal government, , Kendall County and the Northeast Illinois Agency on Aging.

The center, which has been housed at the Old Traughber School building on Franklin Street since 2009, serves two meals twice a week to as many as to 150 seniors. The center also offers 16 other types of  programs, including regular health screenings.

Judy Siedlecki February 22, 2011 at 06:19 PM
I’m voting YES for the Senior Referendum on April 5th or during early voting starting March 14th The Oswego Senior Center is not just twice weekly meals. It also provides life enhancing activities, programs, and educational opportunities to Seniors who appreciate and need the Center for community and friendships – a lifeline. Seniors aren’t expecting a free meal through your tax dollars, as some say. The meal program is set up for a suggested donation of $4, but is still available for those who can’t pay. Thus all Seniors can participate giving them something to look forward to. If they can’t pay money, they pay through other contributions and volunteer hours to keep the Center going. Grants or assistance will not always be available. Seniors volunteer to work fundraisers year round to do their part: Garage Sale in the Gym (July), Live Auctions, Senior Garden (grown & cared for on-site) Vegetable sales, Craft sales, Food & Bake Sales at community events such as PrairieFest Parade, Drag Strip Days, Art Fair, and its own annual Car Show (September). A no vote could mean losing the Oswego Senior Center all together. For approximately $1.00 a month, you can help make the difference whether the Senior Center continues or not. A YES vote for the Senior Referendum will also benefit other senior services in Oswego Township only - not all of Kendall County. Please vote Yes on the Tax Referendum for Seniors. Help keep our Seniors off the streets!

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