For the last several weeks I have been telling people we have a Sales Tax Referendum on the March 18 ballot. Most look at me, pause a moment and say “we do?” Yes, we do.
When you get to the polls, you will be asked if the Village of Forest Park should raise the sales tax from 8.5 percent to nine percent. The wording says it will “be used for expenditure on public infrastructure or for property tax relief or both.” Both?
Sales tax is a state enterprise and most of what we pay goes into the Illinois coffers. However we here in FP get to keep a small piece. The state dictates what towns like us can do with our share and the uses are limited to two. We can fund public infrastructure or property tax relief or both. Sound familiar
Ok, the infrastructure thing is easy, it says we can get new alleys and sewers and roads etc. Great, we need them! It’s the other option that gets tricky and sticky.
What exactly is property tax relief? Well most of what the village pays for comes from property tax money. Copy paper, office furniture, gasoline, trucks, street parties and of course, salaries are paid for by us living here in dear old FP. Say we get this new source of cash, then who is going to decide what things will be paid for under the guise of reducing our property taxes? Ultimately that will be our elected officials. I see temptation written all over this and quite frankly I don’t trust them to do the right thing.
In 2004 the Village Council authorized a vote to raise the sales tax but under pressure from reformers Terry Steinbach and Pat Doolin, the tax went to infrastructure only. They knew the money could otherwise get urinated away. We voters saw this as a chance to get some new alleys and supported it.
So now, 10 years later, we still have bad alleys, bad streets and flooded basements. Why is the Village Council even talking about property tax relief?
Since this sales tax increase will not guarantee that the extra ½ percent you pay will go to alleys, flooding, etc., I urge you to Vote NO next Tuesday.