Thursday night there was a workshop at the Crystal Lake Park Board to discuss the tax levying process.
The presentation assumed that the Board wanted to extract as much money as possible from the taxpayers:
- Take the entire amount allowed under the Property Tax Cap law, that is, 3%
- Take the amount estimated by the County that is new growth
For a home worth $300,000, that’s estimated to cost an extra $40.
Everything was non-controversial until Commissioner Paul Myers said,
“This is probably going to be unpopular. I was going to propose we do one year at the same [amount as last year]. I would be in favor of freezing the levy.
“People’s incomes are going down.
“We want good community rapport,” Myers pointed out, mentioning a community center.”
Jumping to the defense of taking as many tax dollars as possible was Commissioner Jerry Sullivan.
“Everything comes down to your personal situation..not [what’s good] for the whole community…I feel you’re missing our mission.
“Are we saying our major job is to save taxes…Our number one [purpose] is to be able to build our community.”
“The quality of life will go down,” added Park Board President Debbie Gallagher. “Without a vibrant and live park district and school districts, our community [won’t] be a place people will want to live.”
Commissioner Carolyn Bachour-Chemaly asked, “If we lose that money what we lose?”
Gallagher pointed out that by not allowing for the collection of the maximum amount allowed by law, “We would lose that money every year [in the future].”
Staff estimated that freezing the amount taxed for one year would cost a total of almost $1 million over six years.
Sullivan urged fellow Board members to “be visionaries and stand up. You’re not looking to improve the community if [you’re] looking at not capturing [the maximum amount of taxes possible].
“The only [things] people who talk to me about are the facilities and the parks.
“We don’t get surveys saying, ‘We want you to cut taxes.'”
“I don’t think it would be doom and gloom if we froze taxes one year,” Myers replied.
Sullivan insisted the question should be, “Are we doing the best for the parks?”
Myers brought up the reserves the Park District has.
Executive Director Jason Herbster pointed out that the three months in reserve was according to Board Policy.
He suggested that most savings would result in the cutting or delaying of capital projects, but that most of the money for the Park Police could be saved just by turning over the duties to the Crystal Lake Police Department. Out of $400,000, $250,000 might be saved.
He suggested $100,000 could be saved by eliminating the Lake Management money.
“Once it’s goes away, it doesn’t get [put] back,” Gallagher inserted.
Larry Wheeler spoke in favor of approving the staff recommendation.
Commissioner Michael Walkup pointed out that the average family in the country has $3,400 less in income this year as compared to last year. His source was the Presidential campaign.
“It’s a combination of people losing their jobs [and cuts in salary].”
“What is our purpose here?” Sullivan interjected. “We could always cut budgets.”
Herbster announced that the vote would be taken next Thursday night and the ordinance would be up for a vote on December 13th.
Discussing reserves, the Executive Director said he had heard that District 155 had “a full year’s money. We certainly don’t stockpile money like some governments do.”
Commissioner Mike Walkup added that the County has five months of spending in the bank.
Ending the meeting, Gallagher said, “Well, we certainly have food for thought.”
Caroline Bachour-Chemaly for in the last words: “Everybody’s hurting for money.”
Angel Collins was not at the meeting.
Other park districts are expected to do the same.
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If you would like to contact the Park District Commissioners, their emails are below:
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There is one tax, the Special Recreation Tax, which is not capped by the Tax Cap. The Board is not levying the maximum amount it can. That information was contained on the slide you see below: