I do not believe that Governments should compete with business. I believe business needs to be able to compete on an even playing field, and the market should drive which businesses succeed and which ones fail.
That said, the Township’s move is not without precedent. We have seen Park Districts and Forest Preserves acquire land for preservation, conservation, or commercial reasons time and time again. There was a time, even as recently as 2008 when the overwhelming majority of Lake County residents voted in favor of the acquisition of $189 Million dollars worth of real estate for preservation.
Since Lake Villa does not have a Park District, the Township has primarily focused on how to provide its residents with access to recreational amenities for low average costs.
That said, we are living in a very different time than 2008. Unemployment and underemployment in our area is still an issue, wages are still down, property and income taxes are up. The overwhelming majority of residents who I have spoken with have told me they do not want our governments spending any more new money until we have fixed what is wrong with our local economies and our state economies.
What happened at the Lake Villa Township building this past Summer was a beautiful thing. It was the single biggest example of democracy in action that I have seen in a long time. Almost a thousand residents came out, stood in long lines to cast their vote for what they wanted to happen.
The overwhelming majority of residents (I believe by a margin of 700 – 100) voted against the acquisition.
As a candidate for office, this is exactly what I want to see happen at every level of Government, not just the body that represents about $100 of your annual property tax bill, but on all of the taxing bodies.
The day of the vote, I stood in line with all of you to cast my vote and to speak my peace. I started in line standing on Route 59, and it took me about an hour to get my vote cast.
Here is the gist of my words that day while I addressed the crowd:
Congratulations to everyone who cares enough about our community to come here and share your feelings. This is one of the most important things you can do as a member of our community. I am proud to see so many step away from your every day lives to come and be a part of the process. The reality is, however, this is just one small piece of the pie. The Township represents about 1% of your tax bill. For most of you, it represents less that $100 per year, in exchange, our area gets some pretty nice amenities, especially when compared to a Park District that typically represents between $500-700 of their residents’ tax bills. In 2016, the Lake Villa School District School Board (schools represents about 65% of our tax bills) was trying to use non referendum bonds to obtain $4,000,000 to make the Middle School Lunch Room a little nicer. At that meeting I was one of only about three community members present to protest the action.
Think about that for a bit. Township represents 1% of your tax bill for about $100/year wants to spend $750,000 and that draws almost one thousand residents… The School Districts represent about 65% of our tax bills for about $6,000/year and wants to spend $4,000,000 and that draws three residents.
I want our residents to use that same passion that they used to stop the golf course acquisition on every level of Government. I want to be the County Board Member who becomes famous for involving the public. I want the public’s voice to be loud and clear not just to County, but to all of the taxing bodies and to our Representatives and Senators in Springfield.
There’s only ONE WAY to fix our mess in Illinois, and this is for the public to stand up and DEMAND our politicians to STOP THE SPENDING, FIX THE PENSIONS, AND FUND OUR SCHOOLS PROPERLY!
To quote Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. It is all that ever has.”