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Letter: Let's Take a Look at Our Recent Property Tax Bills

May 22, 2016 07:22PM ● Published by Steven Jack

While we continue to wait for the Library District to come clean on its wasteful purchase of 19 North Street, let’s look at our recent property tax bills.  It sheds light on why we rank 29 of 3,143 counties nationally. 

The top prize goes to the Waubonsee Jr. College district which raised taxes 3.26%.  It can do this because it operates in secret.  When is the last time you read about its Board meetings? How does it get away with nominating only friends to the Board?  I’m a big fan of the Jr. College system in America—it gives many a second chance to succeed.  But I don’t like zero transparency of operations—that’s Waubonsee.

The Oswego Library District came in second (2.71% increase).  I guess they needed the money to buy 19 North Street which they purchased with great secrecy, and then continue to lie to us about its intended use.  Part of the tax hike went for the $25,000 more it paid then its own appraisal. Hey, it’s just your tax money.

The Forest Preserve District came in third, with a 2.61% increase.  Here’s another taxing operation that contributes to our overwhelming tax bills.  A dirty secret is that they purchased lots of land that has no access (e.g., old farmland) which state law requires.  Huge increases to your soon-to-come tax bills are coming to build access.  It’s just another taxing body that never saw an expenditure it didn’t like. 

Tied for fourth (at 2.54%) is the County and Fire.  Some County Board members still haven’t paid back the illegal expense claims they got caught making.  One would think the Fire District would not need an increase with big, new stations.  What gives with both of them?

Then there’s the Oswegoland Park District coming in fifth (2.12%).  Having served on its Board, I know it must subsidize the $250,000/year golf course losses. The Board didn’t like my outsourcing plan, which would have guaranteed taxpayers $250,000/year in income.  

Instead they prefer a $250,000 loss and the bloated staff to support nearly 60 parks in Oswego. Some parks are the residue of perfectly good homes on my block, purchased way above appraised value, taken off the tax rolls forever, demolished at great cost, and then expensively created with gazebos and water fountains. Not bad for the handful of people that use those multi-million dollar facilities.  Amazing-and sad!

Thanks go to School District 308 which lowered its tax bill by 2.67%.  This is a welcome change. We urge the School District to continue to reduce costs. It can continue this trend by reducing its bloated administrative staff and near-highest Superintendent compensation from the entire state of Illinois.

Do you think more voters will take an interest in voting and in whom they are voting for in future elections?  I hope so, but wouldn’t bet on it. 

Leonard R. Wass, Oswego


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