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Non-Binding Referendum


A Joint Statement from the Park District, Township and Library Regarding the Non-Binding Referendum Question

Oak Park Votes Yes on Nonbinding Referendum

Collaboration is vital for addressing issues, effecting change

On November 6, Oak Park voters approved the following nonbinding referendum:

"Shall the merger and consolidation of Oak Park taxing bodies be considered, including, but not limited to, the Village of Oak Park, Oak Park Township, the Oak Park Public Library and the Park District of Oak Park, to determine if there would be efficiencies, the elimination of redundancies and/or property tax reduction for the residents of Oak Park?"

What happens now?

All next steps are to be determined. Because this referendum was nonbinding, no direct action is tied to its approval. The library, the park district, and the township will continue to provide quality services, programs, and resources accessible to everyone in our community with a fiscally responsible approach.

Combined, roughly 11.5 percent of your tax bill comes from the park district (4.6%), the library (4.5%) and the township (2.4%). This equates to $1,380 for a $12,000 tax bill, the median in Oak Park for the 2016 taxes paid in 2017, according to Ali ElSaffar, Oak ParkTownship Assessor.

“The Park District agrees taxes routinely need to be evaluated,” said Jan Arnold, Executive Director of the Park District of Oak Park. “To date, there is no known data that shows consolidation will save money. There is research that shows consolidation can reduce services.”

Since long before the referendum to consider consolidation was put on the November 6 ballot, the library, township, and park district have been collaborating to address issues and shared concerns in our community. “We know that we must work together with all other local governmental entities to effect positive change for our community,” said David J. Seleb, Executive Director of the OakPark Public Library.

Welcoming your feedback

The library, the park district, and the township continue to welcome your feedback in person, at community meetings, and via our websites.     


Previous Information Regarding the Non-Binding Referendum

Stretching tax dollars through collaborative efforts amongst Oak Park's governmental entities has long been a goal of the Park District. Read about current intergovernmental cooperation

Regarding the question of consolidation, this 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.

Benchmark Organizationgoldmedallogo

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

Be an Informed Voter

Oak Park Township Information


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