LANSING | Lan-Oak Park District officials are again asking for voter approval for an increase in its property tax rate, and that has some residents concerned.
The district’s board used its meeting Monday to give residents a chance to ask questions about the referendum that calls for approval of a 10-cent increase in the tax rate meant to generate $450,000 for capital improvements for area parks.
But many of the roughly 30 people who attended the forum only heard “tax hike” before expressing their opposition.
John Marovich said he wishes many of the properties owned by the Lan-Oak Park District were sold off to private developers so new homes could be constructed on the land.
“If you put homes there, then they are generating tax dollars, rather than you asking for our taxes,” Marovich said, adding he believes many of the properties barely deserve to be called parks.
“You need to stop fooling the people of Lansing,” Marovich told the park district board. “It’s just vacant property where (the park district) cuts the grass.”
Expressing a similar thought was Joyce Rossi, who said she lived near Bock Park for 62 years and has fond memories of taking her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the park, but says they are in such poor shape now she does not think they are worth spending money to improve.
“Why should we build things and fix all these parks if (the public) can’t use them,” she said.
Park District Executive Director John Wilson said he believes the capital investments that would be made if voters approve the referendum on the April 9 election ballot help to maintain the quality of the community overall.
“If you let your parks go down, the value of your property goes down as well,” he said.
Lansing resident Melissa Olejarz said she sees the benefit of improving the local parks – citing her job as a recreation supervisor with the park district in Tinley Park.
But she said she fears Lansing parks officials are trying to do too much, saying she’d prefer a focus on the parks in “nicer” neighborhoods, “instead of a dinky thing here and a dinky thing there.”
Then, there was 36-year Lansing resident Richard Buckmaster, who said he simply can’t afford to pay any increase in his property tax bill – no matter how worthy the projects might be.
“You have a good idea, but not at this time,” Buckmaster said. “I’m all for fixing the parks up, but not now.”
Park board Vice President John Kelly tried to respond, saying, “In order for us to do the fix-up...”
Buckmaster cut Kelly off, saying, “You can’t do this at this time. You can’t spend money you don’t have.”
“A point well-taken," Kelly said.