EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: On Tuesday, we'll see Lansing's priorities

2013-04-07T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: On Tuesday, we'll see Lansing's prioritiesBy John Wilson nwitimes.com
April 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

On Tuesday, at least in Illinois, there could be new faces in many local government agencies, and definitely any referendum issues will have a conclusion.

Many incumbent politicians have been telling their constituents what they have done and what they will do if re-elected. If they are new on the political scene, those individuals are telling you what was wrong and how they will right the ship. No matter if there are new or seasoned people running for office, it is always an interesting time of year.

On the referendum front, taxpayers will have the opportunity to define their community one way or another. What taxpayers must understand is that the defining point of any referendum issue is ultimately in their hands. Our job as managers of community assets is to provide accurate information relating to a referendum so taxpayers can make an educated decision at the polls. It’s that simple.

During our referendum issue to raise the Lan-Oak Park District’s tax rate by 10 cents, we were very fortunate to have a citizen committee leading our campaign. Over the last several months the feedback and interaction with members of the community was fantastic — win or lose. During those conversations explaining our request for additional capital improvement funding, some reoccurring topics surfaced.

Yes we all know about the economic situation throughout the country, foreclosures and out-of-work situations on the local level. I heard it is not the right time for a referendum. Great comment and concern, but then when is the right time?

Another debatable topic: There is no value in parks and recreation. Needless to say, I totally disagree, and so do a lot of economic studies. If there is no value in a quality parks and recreation system, then why do most real estate companies rate parks and recreation alongside schools and community infrastructure as homeowner priorities?

In 1949, the taxpayers of Lansing determined there was a need for a separate entity to govern and provide leisure services and park amenities. They created the Lan-Oak Park District. Those voters created a legacy for them, their children and future residents who would call Lansing their home while seeking a better quality of life.

In 2013, taxpayers in Lansing will once again have an opportunity to create their own legacy relating to their park district’s future.

At a recent park conference a speaker was talking about finances. He said, "People can afford what they want." In reality, that’s what it comes down to.

On Tuesday, the taxpayers of Lansing will have the opportunity to "afford what they want." Will taxpayers want a quality park system with modern and safe amenities that would be a positive quality of life, or will they want to continue with deteriorating parks that would create a negative quality of life in the community?

John Wilson is director of the Lan-Oak Park District. The opinions are the writer's.

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