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Only Oswego

Letter: Time to Start Taking Interest in How Tax Money is Spent

Mar 27, 2016 08:18PM ● By Steven Jack

How well have your Kendall County political leaders represented you?  In 2007, Kendall County ranked 41 of 3,143 USA counties in property taxes.  Some blamed this on inadequate developer fees levied during the “boom”.  But the “bust” started in 2008, and since then we skyrocketed to rank 29 in the entire USA.  We should be in the top ten very soon.  How does this happen?

The answer is incompetent and uncaring public officials.  Aside from the former Oswego Village Trustees, other taxing bodies just kept spending.  Unfortunately, the new Oswego Village officials have resumed the spending frenzy.

Let’s illustrate incompetence and uncaring with a recent example: the Oswego Public Library District (OPLD).  I love libraries. Citizens of all ages can learn and develop their minds. But I am strongly opposed to wasteful spending, such as the $175,000 expenditure the OPLD recently made to buy about 3 acres across Waubonsee Creek, with a historic urban barn and home, which used to contribute $5,800/year in property taxes. It is zoned Residential. I learned from OPLD’s official documents that they rushed this purchase with no public input. 

Seven concerned citizens, including me, presented questions to the OPLD Board last Wednesday.  We faced indifference.  No answers were provided.  They even refused to tell us when we would get answers.  My questions are listed below.  Do answers to these questions interest you?

Why did the OPLD Board have $175,000 readily available in cash in its bank account to make this purchase?  Can we assume that you must not have to balance a tight budget each year?

What factors made you rush from two secret meetings to a contract to buy within days?

What is so secret about your land purchase that you forced the adjacent neighbors to use FOIA requests to obtain public information, such as appraisals and inspections?

A review of your Board agendas shows no provision whatsoever for public comment on the 19 North Street purchase…please explain this completely to the citizenry.

 Six other citizens asked similarly straight forward questions, but were also given blank stares instead of answers, with one exception:  One citizen cited the newspaper report stating the property would become a parking lot. 

A Trustee vehemently denied that.  Very interesting, since only a few days earlier the Head Librarian told me, face to face, that the Library was looking 40 years ahead to when they might need additional parking.  When that Trustee was asked what the plan for the property was, all Trustees resumed absolute silence.

This example shows how your taxing officials are doing their best to raise us into the top ten taxing counties in the nation.  In the meantime, more people are moving out of Oswego, unable to pay their property taxes.

Don’t you think it is time for you to start taking more of an active interest in how your tax money is being spent?

Leonard R. Wass, Oswego