Lack of consistency could be taxing
Stories regarding two important business sectors in Forest Park reflected some stark and disturbing differences. The first was on the brainstorming session held on downtown parking. According to the story, "the village has agreed to place $140,000 per year in a fund for downtown parking improvements…" The story also noted that Village Administrator Mike Sturino "…went out of his way to reassure owners that they would not be paying for the work alone". In fact, he was quoted as saying, "We're not going to go to the downtown business community and say you're going to pay for this." He also said, "No models that we're considering involve a Special Service Area or otherwise asking businesses to foot the bill completely."
Just a few pages into the paper, there was another story about the Village Council's decision last week to cancel plans for a Special Service Area along Industrial Drive to rebuild that village owned roadway. In that story, at least one Commissioner, Mark Hosty all but threatened those business owners who opposed the Special Service Area, noting that forcing the Village to create a Special Assessment Area would not allow them to deduct the monies they paid.
For those of you who may be new to Forest Park, Industrial Drive is home to several industrial businesses that, according to their reports, pump more than $2 million in property tax dollars to taxing districts that serve Forest Park. Like the Madison Street business owners they are an integral part of what makes Forest Park property taxes more affordable for its residents. In Cook County residential, commercial, industrial and multi-family (7 or more units) properties are all assessed at different rates. Residential is assessed at percent, commercial at 38 percent, industrial at 36 percent and multi-family at 26 percent. Thus, by having a significant amount of commercial and industrial properties in Forest Park, homeowners are able to keep their property tax burden relatively low. If attitudes like those expressed by Commissioner Hosty toward our very important industrial property owners, prevail here, Forest Park will quickly lose its industrial tax base, shifting the property tax burden to our homeowners.
I agree with the first story that our downtown Forest Park businesses should not have to solely shoulder the burden of a parking structure even though it will exclusively serve downtown. But I also agree that the industrial property owners along Industrial Drive should not be asked to solely shoulder the burden of a rebuilt street, even though it will exclusively serve the businesses on that street. The businesses on Industrial Drive, like the businesses on Madison, are what make Forest Park a great place to live, and we all benefit when they succeed.
Commissioner Terry Steinbach
Editor's note: Following the publication of last week's story on the downtown parking discussions, Village Administrator Michael Sturino informed the Review that he had been misquoted in the quote that Commissioner Steinbach later happened to reference in her letter. According to a recording of the meeting by Citizens United in Forest Park, CUinFP, Sturino's actual statement was that "none of (the financial models we're exploring) involve the business community, through an SSA (Special Service Area) or otherwise, footing the bill completely for this," meaning that, though an SSA is a possibility, it would not be the sole means of funding the project.
Thank you for your generosity
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the firefighters and police who responded to our house fire on Dec.7. We would also like to thank Mayor Calderone, Commissioner Hosty, and our wonderful friends and neighbors who offered their coats, homes, and continuing support. We really felt a sense of community during this difficult time, and it made us realize how lucky we are to live in such a great village with great friends and neighbors around us.
We would like to give a special thank you to Commissioner Patrick Doolin for finding us an apartment to stay in so quickly after the fire.
There really are no words to express our appreciation to everyone who made our loss easier to cope with.
Kevin & Kate Corrigan
7714 Adams, Forest Park