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Only Oswego

Letter: Non-Voters Don't Care About How Taxes Are Spent

Aug 07, 2015 11:25AM ● By Steven Jack

This letter is to the 11 percent of registered Kendall County voters who voted last April. I mean no malice to the other 89 percent, but realize you do not care about how your taxes are spent—otherwise you would have participated in the democratic process of voting.

This letter focusses on how the Oswegoland Park District is spending your money. 

Several months ago, a citizen attended a Park Board meeting and asked how new revenue bonds would be spent.  He was stonewalled!  I chuckled when I read this in the local media. As a former dissident Board member I know how the OPD Board operates.

Anticipating budget cuts because of bankrupt state coffers, the OPD raised money with bonds (“Borrow”, from “Tax, Borrow, and Spend”) to realize its “dreams”.  One of these dreams is wrecking my neighborhood to extend the riverside park it already has.  Wouldn’t you think OPD would buy the old Alexander Lumber property and turn that into ice skating, farmer’s market, etc.?  No, the new cronies in Village Hall have political debts to pay to developers who financed them, and have other designs for that property, i.e., a TIF, a bond where taxpayers pay lots of what a developer would normally pay to incentivize a  developer (as Chicago does in ghetto neighborhoods). More on that in another letter.

Back to the story of the stonewalled citizen of how OPD would spend that money.  OPD has purchased several homes on N. Adams Street, along the river.  They purchased these homes for 30% to 50% over market value, and then knocked them down at huge expense.  They are off the tax rolls forever, and you have assumed that burden.

Now, they bought new another home, and knocked down, at 118 N. Adams St.  The wreckers are still there. Right next door are two lots which are now an OPD park. By conservative estimates, these two former home, now “parks” cost you about $1 million.  And, living on that street, I estimate that about 100 people have visited that “Park” in the last year.  That costs you about $10,000/visit.  Good deal?

The new bonds you were committed to are knocking down another perfectly good home.  It was appraised at $190.557, but your Park District gave the owner $245,000 for it.  That’s a 29% premium over the appraised value, but then again it’s only your tax money. Taxes were $6,649/yr., but now you will be paying that forever (plus escalation) since it is off the tax rolls.  Demolition will cost about $50,000 and “beautification” with the high paid staff who designs OPD parks will cost another $100,000.  For one lot one our street you will pay about $ 500,000—plus foregone taxes and maintenance costs forever.  Good deal? 

I toured St. Louis last week and learned they have 110 parks; we now have 66 in Oswego. And the new Board Chairman of OPD can give his wife, the VP of OPD Human Resources, a raise to boot.

Leonard R Wass, Oswego