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Oak Park offers a variety of services that can be accessed online from a computer, tablet or smart phone. Some of the services are managed directly by the Village, while others are third-party vendors authorized by the Village to conduct transactions.
Consolidate as much as possible
Honestly, I think the best "other communities" to look at are the ones that aren't in Illinois at all. Our whole local governance model where every function has to have its own separate taxing body is bad. It erodes accountability when we have so many elected boards that most voters don't even know who they're voting for. And it creates a situation where no one taxing body is responsible for achieving a balance between competing budget priorities. Of course this is why every taxing body's levy goes up, up, up every year. D97 doesn't have to consider D200's needs when they choose to raise their own levy, and the VOP doesn't have to worry about us getting bled dry by the schools when they raise theirs. Angry about high taxes? You have a dozen different elected boards to blame. So which one do you want to hold accountable? All of them?
I come from the northeast where it's typical to pay property taxes to as few as ONE single taxing body. Schools, parks, libraries, public safety, water, sewer, etc., all fall under the local municipality. Mayors and City Councils are forced to actually consider the sum total impact to taxpayers when they pass their budgets, and they are held accountable for their ability to achieve that balance and deliver the services that their voters care about.
The end result is obvious: other states pay far less in taxes for the same services we get here in Illinois. There's no question that too many local governments is a big part of the reason why.
That is the primary basis for consolidation: if the Township and the Village can't save a penny in the near-term by consolidating, they should STILL do it, as a matter of accountability and long-term fiscal sanity. Same for the school districts and any other taxing body we can get rid of.
I don't know what the limit of consolidation rules are here in Illinois, and I'm guessing we could never consolidate the Village with D97, for example. But if we could I'd be in favor of that for the same reason.
SJB is on point. I'll add that...
There's a systemic failure to publicly demand that elected officials (including @ D97 and D200) lead with a fiduciary obligation to all residents.
I'll ask google for you...
This question seems a little ludicrous... who among us knows the intricacies of other communities?! So, I've done the google search for you - Provo Utah seems to be legit; Boise Idaho close second in the all-around score. They must be doing something right. Source: https://wallethub. com/edu/best-run-cities/22869/
Top 6 (+ Chicago) based on "quality of city services" (and a second rank with budget per capita rank, out of 150)
1. Huntington Beach, CA (#48 budget per capita)
2. Bismarck, ND (#40)
3. Provo, UT (#2- avg effective property tax rate of 1.098%)
4. Virginia Beach, VA (#43)
5. Fremont, CA (#97)
6. Boise, ID (#3 - effective property tax rate of 0.800%)
129. Chicago (#136)
Oak Park's effective property tax rate was %2.960 before D97's referendum. Somehow other communities are doing very well with less.
Alternate Side Parking - No Overnight Parking Restrictions
Why don't we get rid of the outdated over night parking restriction and instead move to an alternate side parking rule? We could get rid of the whole parking division. Move to a simple sticker that would allow overnight parking anywhere in the Village, but the vehicle would need to get moved the next day. Want longer parking options? Then pay to put your car in one of the many lots in the Village for a fee. This would make parking much simpler for everyone, allow much easier enforcement and allow Public Works to clean and plow our streets much more easily.
The money well is not bottomless
To have a strong, healthy and sustainable community, we need to know the difference between a must- or should-have vs a "nice-to-have" initiative. Things like the Divvy Bikes (cost to us of $175k/year, I believe), valet parking (flat-rate contract we paid to vendor), bloated administrations (D97, other) with high salaries, and so much more...simply don't make sense. And, while the money may be "in the budget," when the money is poorly spent, it's not available for other things with a much better ROI that serve our community better. We need an entirely new lens that we look through when examining and deciding on how our precious tax money is spent. Thank you.
District 97 taxes
Seems to me, last year or so, the district pulled in more tax money than they needed and a refund was due the taxpayers. But there would be a "delay" for the refund. 1 year? 2 years? Never?
Oh, wait, they found it could be used to help pay off a bond they had. Sorry folks, the village has its priorities. See you next tax season.