The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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How have property tax levels in Oak Park impacted you?

The Taxing Body Efficiency Task Force is seeking public input as it develops recommendations to identify cost efficiencies in the public services provided by the local government bodies that rely on Oak Park property taxes as a major source of funding. Public comments are being sought on the following topic through May 13, 2018:

How have property tax levels in Oak Park impacted you?

Comments are monitored and will not appear immediately.



Submitted by anonymous on

I guess, I never would have bought the house I bought. The more I learn about property taxes, the more I realize that 2-4 houses or 2-3 can have more space, amazing attics and basements and have over 3,000+ square footage in livable space, but only pay taxes on 1,000 square feet of space. There are such inequiiteis in the way that property is assesseed in Cook County and you really see it in Oak Park because our taxes are so high. Why should my 1,600 square foot home have higher taxes than a newly rehabbed 1,600 square foot home that costed $650K. The $650K house in the same class and neighborhood will then be used to determine the assessed value for my non-rehabbed home. There are many homes that are paying too little in taxes in Oak Park and thus the rest of us pay too high of a share. I wish there was a way to fix this mess that noboby ever talks about.

Submitted by Susan on

Our property taxes have doubled since we purchased our home in 2002. I believe we will leave Oak Park once our kids graduate high school. I love the schools, the community, the parks, but I just do not see us being able to afford this community in the future if taxes continue to grow.

Submitted by Anonymous on

After 3 years in Oak Park, I never thought we'd be leaving. The combination of tending to an old home (which we already knew going in) coupled WITH the steady hike in overall taxes, lack of transparency and the inability for people to compromise across taxing bodies, we leave this summer. I am sad that our kids are leaving such a great community,but they are young enough to rebuild new friendships...and we can afford more of a cushion for enjoying life vs. wondering what our tax rates will be. Our savings per year in taxes will be over $11,000, with a school system that is smaller and has fantastic test scores. My heart is always with OP, but logic set in and, as a parent, I needed to weigh everything all factors, including economics.

One thing you will notice: stress. This is a Village full of people who are stressed with the financial decisions they need to weigh to stay here. The progressive and diverse socio-economic days of OP are gone.

This is a wonderful place and ideal for the younger families who left Chicago neighborhoods like Bucktown,Ravenswood and Lakeview. To them, OP is a bargain. Dual working families in a cute town next to the city. And there is nothing wrong with that. But it's not the OP of the 70s and 80s anymore. These new families may not care or have the time to be as involved as Oak Parkers are known to be.

I discuss exit plans with other families weekly. What keeps many here are the multiple generations of other Oak Park families. But even that link is starting to lose its weight. Young families aren't taking trips or fixing their homes or doing anything outside of Oak Park because they want to get their tax money's worth. That's a problem.

Submitted by Natalie on

After constantly hearing everyone ask us why we--a dual-income, no kids family--choose to live here after 14 years, I realize that with the taxes the way they are, I honestly don't know any more.

Submitted by Alisha on

We have considered leaving Oak Park due to taxes. We love living here, but we can get considerably more house, and a much more updated house and pay less in other areas. We also purchased a fixer upper and were excited to do work on it, but with the rising tax rates, we have not been able to update our house as much as we were expecting. After 6 years of living here, our taxes have gone up a ridiculous amount.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This seems like a fairly unscientific exercise. It would be one thing to ask for suggestions. But just asking people to go out on the internet, locate a website and weigh in on whether they're happy or sad about taxes?

Submitted by Alia Smith on

Negatively. Since moving to Oak Park 9 years ago our property taxes have increased quickly on a modest 2 bedroom home to over $12,000, a 50% increase. At the same time, the value of our home hasn’t increased anywhere near that rate. This increase is because of District 97's failure to control their expenses. Because of our increased property taxes, we cannot save as much for retirement or spend as much on other important family expenses.

Submitted by Tom on

To improve government efficiencies, like many businesses have done the government should also do away with pensions and instead provide 401k retirement plans for public employees. The pension system is unsustainable and should be considered a priority to reduce risk, rather than cut spending on much needed infrastructure improvements.

Submitted by Anonymous on

We plan to leave the community as the tax structures in Illinois and Local communities is unsustainable. As we watch how our tax monies are spent, government needs to self-police its own spending policies to reduce their own extravagant spending. Do you really need a 3-D model of Oak Park? Architectural drafts should be sufficient.

Submitted by Robin Dannevik-... on

We are first time home owners, bought our 2 flat 2015 after renting here for several years. We knew about the taxes and decided to buy anyway because we love the community, diversity, public services, shops/restaurants, and proximity to downtown. We are starting to feel that it's not worth it to stay as homeowners, might sell and go back to renting or buy somewhere else, due to property taxes. Feeling helpless, that the taxes will just keep rising beyond what we can pay. What saddens me is that this community will become less and less diverse as people of lower income can no longer afford to live here. The diversity that Oak Park is so proud of will be gone. It will be a village where only wealthy people can afford to live.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Property tax reform is crucially needed in Oak Park. The ability of residents to plan for and pay property taxes is crippled by the unmitigated raising of property taxes to fund government. There should be a cap and time constraint on the percentage increase and decrease in property taxes. No more than a 1% increase over a 5 year period based on the purchase price of the home would allow residents to plan. The government should be able to plan based on a firm tax base instead of raising taxes by "estimating" market values to fund increasing government budgets.

Submitted by Ruth on

Our taxes have tripled, and I'm not sure if we can stay here, although we love it here. We've seen many friends move, and the high taxes are the primary reason. If you really want to hear from the community, you should advertise this better.

Submitted by Paul Root on

If you look at the tax rates in Oak Park relative to any other suburb, Oak Park taxes are double or almost double. Why is this? Some people love to tout the schools and parks. While I love living in Oak Park, there are plenty of suburbs including anything on the North Shore, Evanston, and Arlington Heights whose schools and parks are just as good, and in many cases better. There is clearly something very wrong and we need to fix it. We just put a new addition on our home, and our bill will be enough to probably move, that is if we can even sell to someone else that wants a $30k+ tax bill. We are are a well-to-do, double income family, though are not millionaires, and it’s too bad this town will squeeze the middle even further, leaving only those who can afford the insane tax bill (income with over $400k) and those that have homes that cost less than $350k.

Submitted by Zach on

Initially, Oak Park's reputation for extremely high property taxes kept us from even considering buying a house here, but we were able to find a home with reasonable property taxes in 2014. Since that time, our taxes have increased roughly 47%, and without multiple appeal efforts, it could have gone even higher. In fact, the prospects for our taxes to further increase will likely be a consistent battle we will have to fight on a yearly basis for the foreseeable future, which is a bit unnerving considering any additional increase is not really in our budget and would severely effect our quality of life negatively. To say that Oak Park's property taxes are excessive would be a severe understatement, and anyone who has done their research knows that the layers of taxing bodies are designed with the intention of keeping the revenue from property taxes difficult to track, ambiguous, and convoluted. Like thousands of other homeowners, we have seriously considered moving out of Oak Park to save thousands of dollars of property taxes (which would accumulate significantly over the years). What's even more disconcerting, is that Oak Park is a city that prides itself on integration and diversity (which was a big selling point for us moving here), yet it's excessive property taxes are a very real threat to that idea, and no doubt keep thousands of potential buyers from considering owning a home here, which is really a shame. If Oak Park truly values attracting a diverse variety of people, it should understand that it's absurd property taxes are a very real deterrent to that. It's nice that Oak Park is taking a hard look at how it's revenue is spent, but unless some significant changes take place property tax-wise, you will continue to price people out of the area and steadily regress in terms of equality and diversity, the very things that make Oak Park a great place to live.

Submitted by SK on

Whenever I’m speaking with someone in the Chicagoland area about where we all live, as soon as I say “Oak Park” the next thing someone says is “property taxes”. It may as well be the official village motto.

In the 19 years I have lived here, my property taxes have increased 350%. It is more than my mortgage payment. I was planning on improving my modest house with a small addition, but now won’t because that would significantly increase my property tax. Other property improvements are on hold. People in my neighborhood do improvements, if at all possible, under the radar without permits to avoid triggering even more tax.

I have sadly watched residents on my block, who have lived their whole lives in Oak Park, move to Berwyn and Forest Park because of the tax burden. I miss them. This is the reward for investing and living long years in the community. I am nearing retirement and seriously worry about being able to stay here. I feel like I now live in a transient “rent-a-school” community.

Submitted by John Ferguson on

I love this community but am appalled and dismayed at the ever increasing property taxes here. I'm tired of the state, village, and school district treating my property and checkbook as their own financial playground. I have reached my limit and am considering leaving Oak Park especially, and Illinois in general. Our tax dollars are wasted to the extreme, while infrastructure and other needs in South Oak Park go unmet. But I guess a 3-D model of the village is more important than your residents.

Submitted by Jason Pacynski on

We moved to Oak Park to raise a family and be part of an enriched community almost three years ago. Taxation in a village is understandably higher to fund shared services, but towns have less revenue due to lack of big business to pick up a more significant share of the tab. Adequately supporting the obligations and adhering to mandates of local, state and federal governments that are either pushed down or voted on by constituencies is mostly summarized as “if you cannot pay for it, you should not buy it.”

Each ½ year we receive our tax bill, and it lists public debt services and obligations. In open forum, Oak Park is quick to evade open discussions on control of existing commitments but quick to add to bonds to the ballot which will add to them. OPRF’s swimming pool debate in 2016 is a prime example of inefficient disconnected, communally funded government (at the same time, Oak Park launched a survey to potentially construct a new community center). Services of Oak Park include but are not limited to Schools, Parks, Police, Fire, etc. and while they’re deemed essential, connecting the implications of the total cost on to homeowners to fund these services is hardly considered by the central village as a joint obligation of a homeowner. And while each function operates independently, these bills still hit homeowners the same.

When our pension funds become more heavily underfunded, you need to pass a General Obligation bond, (yet) another school infrastructure bond, or you want to build another community center, looking to homeowners to fund these things is going to be tough when everyone has left, and home values have deflated. Cost of services is increasing and it is concerning that my Redfin account is cycling today with listings quicker than it has in the past. It is time to have a severe sit-down, and make tough decisions on essential and non-essential services Oak Park is suitable to sustain – and pass back hard dollars to the village homeowners. Otherwise, the implications will have surpassed us, and we’ll all have moved (as many consider today). The health of the state of Illinois is not in great shape, and people are not rushing to come here like they once were.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Our plan was to move back to the community we grew up in and raise our kids to move back here and raise their own children here eventually. Now we are considering moving away from OP because the property taxes have raised to the point they aren't manageable anymore.

Submitted by Katie on

I grew up in Oak Park in a family of six people. My dad was the primary breadwinner so we did not grow up with a lot of money. My parents sent us to private grade school and we went to Oak Park. My parents were able to do all of that while still living in OP. Now that I have children I went to provide them with the same chances that I got as a child. What OP has to offer is great - schools, parks, closeness to Chicago, etc. But the amount we pay in taxes is slowly killing our budget. We are almost paying the same in principal and interest as we are into our escrow account. What was crazy is that my parents house that is worth about 500k has the same taxes as my house when valued at 350k. I don't know how we can as a community expect to continue with the diversity when we are pricing that diversity out. Seniors are going to leave, people without kids, and once someone's kid has graduated they will leave. At this point that is our plan. We have also had to figure out our backup plan and move to a different town. We just passed a large increase for D97 and now we have a problem with the HS's pools that we need money. At what point will it stop?

Submitted by Anonymous on

1. I don't appreciate scare tactics to get people to vote for tax referendums..."we will habve to fire teachers if this doesn't pass!"
2. Property values are going down because people think our property taxes are outrageous and so then they choose to move elsewhere.
3. Building apartments will bring more people to OP and more kids, putting a strain on our schools and park district. We will need another referendum!
4. Having a separate high school district where we are paying administrators gobs of money is a waste of revenue. SD 200, 97, and 90 need to work together and SAVE MONEY.
5. OPRFHS teachers make a lot of money relative to unit district teachers.
6. Many people that grew up.I'm OP cannot afford the sad!
7. Change for the better is urgent and necessary!

Submitted by Christopher Boyer on

We've lived in the village since the late 90's. Since then our taxes have dramatically increased year over year. One of the biggest drains is our school system which spends significantly more per student than any other district in the western suburbs of comparable education value. If we weren't spending so much and subsidizing so many people, we might be able to lower this burden. As it stands, we are looking to leave Oak Park and move west when the school timing is right. Hate to leave, but spending $17k+ per year on a 2,200sq/ft house is absurd. What we get for this amount is not commensurate with other suburbs, and our education really isn't any better than any where else now.

Submitted by Frank F on

We have lived in Oak Park for over 35 years and each tax bill pushes us closer to leaving. There are very few places like OP (none that we know of in Illinois) and we dread the thought of starting over somewhere else. We utilize the parks, park programs, library, the access to public transit and highly value the police, fire, and the other village services. Our children received sound education here. We value the vibe, but now our neighbors are moving out and we feel our turn is coming. We are hanging on, but for how long?

Submitted by Brett Bush on

We just bought a small house (our first) in Oak Park last summer after a few years of renting here. The taxes are manageable for now but we are already discussing other communities we might be interested in living in when we grow out of this one - we don't think our incomes will outpace tax increases enough to allow us to get anything larger.

Submitted by ☭Adam☭ on

Oak Park seems to value the undue influence of property developers, their lawyers, and the MBA's who are their functionaries over working people. Developers have been allowed to profit, handily, without contributing in kind to the tax pool, without having to provide accessible and affordable amenities and housing to create a conservable community.This myopia is typical of a neoliberalism that has rotted our Village Board. Cf. lack of affordable housing in recent developments, the blight of former Divvy stations, the fiasco over whether to honor the citizens support for an increase of the minimum wage...

Personally, like many, we will have to defer maintenance to our home as our real wages are being funneled into a tax pool that hires cops and offers incentives to developers.

And lastly, the political and economic geniuses on the board have continually called into question the ethical and aesthetic questions our pooled resources are supposed to support. The very characters and features that have been a draw, historically, are imperiled by the so-called inescapable logic of our Village Board's financial myopia.

We need a 100% transparent accounting of every Trustees' (and so-called Mayor's) investments, tax bills, tax filings, and other financial dealings.

Submitted by Anne on

Oak Park is like the Chicago neighborhoods that gentrified - razing or rehabbing once affordable homes - escalating prices and taxes. A standard workingman’s bungalow is gutted, manicured, polished and outfitted with the latest appliances. It hits the market a $750,000.00. Kick grandma to the curb - she sold it for a pittance. Speculators find inventory from the stressed homeowners looking for a quick exit from the financial burden. Out with “old people” on fixed incomes, followed by stressed the middle class families, then the landlords sell their once affordable muli-unit properties that are losing money. The population turns over.

Submitted by Laurie on

When we moved here 20 years ago into our small, NEOP home, our taxes were $2500. Now they are 4x that, and only because we fight the tax hike every time (our neighbors in similar homes pay up to $4k more than we do). When our kids are done with school we will likely have to look to move outside of OP where the taxes are lower even though we love our home and community. We do believe in paying taxes for our schools, libraries, arts, infrastructure etc., but we also moved to OP because of the diversity. The current tax situation makes OP unaffordable for a large portion of the middle class.

Submitted by Cathy Yen on

Although we love Oak Park and appreciate the services provided by the taxing bodies, the combined impact of our tax bill means that we have less disposable income for contributing to nonprofits and for purchasing goods and services. This puts further pressure on small businesses that depend on local spending and on the social service organizations struggling to balance rising demand with cuts in funding.

Submitted by Anna Gomberg on

Because of our property taxes, we are unable to maintain and improve upon our home in the manner in which we had hoped, particularly while our children are young and need full time childcare. I believe this was a limiting factor for the previous owners of our home as well, as evidenced by some of the choices we were confronted with in the first few years of home ownership. We are unable to save for college and the future at rates we had planned, and do not spend money in the Village at businesses at a rate we would enjoy (we have very little disposable income).

As a young family, it makes Oak Park less appealing than the other, high quality areas around us (Naperville, Hinsdale, Orland Park, etc.) which seem on the make rather than on the take.

I imagine people will continue to want to buy homes here as long as the schools are excellent (recently, this is also a matter of debate), the village is regarded as safe, and single family homes are available and affordable. All of these things are up for debate, and taxes aren’t improving quality of life in any of these domains. As a home owner whose home is their largest investment, the high taxes that do not seem to be garnering improvements on school quality and safety are forcing us to consider moving elsewhere.

I’m perennially irritated by the lack of commercial development, particularly in the Harrison Arts District, and believe that the taxes imposed on these properties are also inhibiting growth.

Submitted by Mark on

Honestly, the property taxes are comically bad. In the two plus years I have lived here my taxes have gone up close to 50%. For what exactly? How is Oak Park so much higher than every other town in the state? For one thing, you would be insane to live in this town if you didn't have children. While the schools are very good, they are far from the best in the state. How is it that so many other towns with less residents are able to tax at a lower rate? This is to say nothing of the recent crime wave. The village should be embarrassed that they have this high of a tax rate and also have car jackings in every part of the town. Nearly everyone I know that lives in Oak Park is either looking to move due to this issue or is planning to move as soon as their children are done with school. Shame on the village for the wasteful spending at the resident's expense.

Submitted by Kathryn on

When faced with a tax increase of nearly 45% over the 6 years that we lived in our home (and appealing every year), we were faced with the decision of having to move into a house that needed renovation. My personal belief is that there should be a cap on how much they can go up in a single year. In such a relatively short period of time to price people out of there own homes is criminal.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It’s a sad mess. Moroney suggested commissioning bronze sculptures of former residents to bring in tourism. Good god (... no, He wasn’t a suggestion.)

Submitted by Althelia on

We have lived in Oak Park for 23 years. As retirees, we can no longer afford to pay the real estate taxes. We appeal at every opportunity but the taxes just continue to escalate. Our taxes are now more than our mortgage payments.

Submitted by Ben Dover on

Current tax burden makes zero sense. Many people mo I g out and very few will move in with these taxes. No wonder you pay in arrears since that is where the count is giving our taxes.

Submitted by Audrey Rosenblatt on

I don’t understand why our taxes have to be so much higher than surrounding communities. What are we spending money on that (la grange for example) isn’t? I don’t see us as having greater amenities than the surrounding communities, or necessarily better schools etc. The taxes are high and that impacts our budget obviously, but my greater concern is that there is waste because other communities are clearly able to provide comparable services at a significantly lower tax rate.

Submitted by Local mom on

I know that many people say that they are here for the schools but our schools are not within the top 10 in the state. I could live in the city and test my child into a better school with a better academic record than pay these high taxes. This is ridiculous!

Submitted by Jacqueline Clark on

We are moving out of Oak Park this summer and are so very sad to leave the community. However, the property taxes are unsustainable for living here comfortably long-term. It's ultimately more important to our family that I work part time and spend more time with our children than that we live in Oak Park. Oak Park is such a wonderful and convenient community in so many ways, and property taxes are certainly not the only reason we are moving. On the other hand, it's completely irresponsible for one OP taxing body to ask for an increase via referendum for a new pool KNOWING that another taxing body would be coming to residents 6 months later asking for money so that our elementary schools can keep art and music. The OP taxing bodies need to talk to each other and make collective decisions about how to prioritize, spend, and ask for more tax dollars.