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Non-Binding Referendum

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Non-Binding Referendum Information on the November Election Ballot

The Park District, School Districts, Library, Township, Village, and others have participated, at the request of the Village, in talks about whether it would be useful to investigate whether consolidation of four or more public bodies into one body would achieve efficiencies and reduce property taxes. Recently, the Village Board voted to place a non-binding referendum on the November election ballot asking residents that question—whether the Village should explore consolidation of four or more of these into one. Read about current intergovernmental cooperation

As for the Park District, the question has been answered more than once. The Park District was created so that the Village’s parks could be managed and maintained expertly—tasks the Village could not achieve. More recently the Village deeded all of the recreation centers and other facilities it owned to the Park District, which already had been managing them.  Read the IAPD Local Government Consolidation Report

The History of Park District Independence

In 2005 Oak Park voters approved a Park District referendum authorizing the Park District to collect 25 cents for every $100 of equalized assessed valuation of property beginning fall 2006. These additional tax dollars are used to replace an annual $1.6 million transfer from the Village of Oak Park to support parks and recreation services. In 2006, the year following the referendum, the Park District purchased the recreation centers from the Village, consolidating all park and recreational facilities and programs into the Park District. In addition to replacing the Village transfer, referendum dollars also fund the District’s Capital Improvement Plan allowing the Park District to implement a system-wide parks and facilities renewal program. These capital funds, in part, are used as matching funds for several state grants resulting in the Park District securing approximately $5,000,000 in grant dollars for park improvements in the past 12 years. Read about the grants the Park District has been awarded.

Quality of Care

The Park District cares for trees, shrubs, grass, water features, and buildings.  These living things and structures require specialized skills, some of them on a daily basis.  No entity in Oak Park except the Park District has those skills, which is why the Park District already partners with School District 97 on the care of District 97 fields. District 97 does not have the resources or skills the Park District has.

Community Value

NRPA-economic-impact-study-summary-2018-1The Park District contributes directly to the good health, wellness, and happiness of Oak Park residents through its programs, facilities, and green space and parks. We connect families and our community through programs like free summer concerts, free movies in the park, Fall Fest, and more. We preserve and protect our environment by planting trees, shrubs, and flowers and installing cisterns, solar panels, and rain gardens. Finally we impact our community economically. Good parks and schools attract new home buyers. Additionally, we are the largest employer of youth in the Village. Read the National Recreation and Park Association's Economic Impact Report.

Fiscal Responsibility

In 1991, the State of Illinois passed a tax cap which placed a ceiling on the amount of taxes the Park District and all other taxing bodies can collect without a referendum. This tax cap excludes all home rule communities such as the Village of Oak Park.  The Park District is thriving!  The Park District is an excellent steward not only of its parks, facilities, and programs, but also with taxpayers’ money.  By planning years in advance, partnering with the schools, Township, Library and Village whenever possible, and finding additional funds from sources other than our residents, the Park District is a model of efficiency and prudence. Oak Park residents are getting excellent value for their investment and trust in the Park District. See the 2017 Park District of Oak Park Annual Report.

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Providing for the health, recreation and well-being of Oak Park residents by providing acres of green space and a wide variety of recreation programs is our sole priority. In 2015 the Park District was awarded the National Gold Medal for Parks and Recreation Management, recognizing the PDOP as the single best park district in the nation in communities with a population of 30,000 to 75,000.

Additional Information

Oak Park's 3-Year History of Local & Regional Tax Levies

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