Our Plainfield Park District will have its October meeting this Wednesday, the 9th, at 6 p.m. at the Heritage Center in downtown Plainfield. Here’s the link for the meeting info packet (which begins with the agenda): http://www.plainfieldparkdistrict.com/assets/Site/PDFs/board-minutes/2013/October%209%20Board%20Packet.pdf. On cursory review, here are some notable things from the packet:
1—The tax levy is increased a bit from this year to next (from .2433% to .2545%) but actual tax dollars paid should be pretty static because of current property values. Still, it’s worth looking closely at the fictional math worksheet “for informational purposes” about how the levy affects you if, for example, your home is valued at $250K—see, there’s a little asterisk next to some “wishful thinking” on p31 that supposes that a quarter million dollar house will be taking a 5% loss in value so that the house is taxed from a value of $237,500 instead of that $250K. Why? Just to make the numbers say that the owner would NOT pay an eight buck increase for the whole year, but a just under a two buck decrease! Well, thank goodness it all ends on such a happy note! Back to the little asterisk: it leads you to the disclaimer that this 5% value decrease is just an estimate and that values will vary between properties. And, the estimate is unattributed and even estimates should be sourced and reasonably founded. And, of what good is this particular speculation? None. So, it’s a completely made up depreciation figure only to allow Garrett Peck and the three controlling board members of Hurtado, Silosky, and Steinys to say “taxes are (going to be, we hope, we hope) less and you’re welcome!” Not six months ago when many of us were saying that it was wrong to omit property value from the equation while these guys were trying to terrify residents about taxes by citing only the increase in rate between 2007 and 2012, they could not be persuaded. Now, when rates just aren’t quite as dramatic, they don’t just cherry pick data, but flat out make data up to fit the spin. Not to mention that these few are the only people I know who actively HOPE people lose another 5% of home value so they can say they saved you from the horror of spending eight extra dollars, or 15 cents a week in 2014, plus gave you an extra two dollars or 2 cents a week. But, what spin will be spun if next year people don’t save even two bucks?
2—The PPD is mimicking school district 202 policy of listing FOIA request activities (on p33 of the packet). We can all see who is requesting what and there is an estimated cost of fulfillment. Again, how the estimates are calculated isn’t disclosed so who knows if this is a true cost at all. The activity isn’t a bad thing to measure or document, though I think in this case it’s supposed to send a message that those stupid taxpayers are forcing the PPD to waste money to answer stupid questions about transparency. It’s a gutless, passive-aggressive “enemies list”, which makes me giggle! But that said the info can help everyone. Instead of your own request you can get info from someone who has already requested the same (the school district saves time and money by just posting the responses as well to try to avoid repeated requests). I’ve found that fellow citizens are very generous about sharing information.
3—Procedural/board delays on getting some seal-coating and other work done means that the board is being advised to pass on doing the work at all this year because of running out of time and good weather to complete the jobs. That stinks—we pay our taxes in part for the infrastructure to be properly maintained and how do you miss the window on getting this dull but necessary stuff done? Was this really any harder to accomplish than the trimming of the bushes at the pool? Hopefully somebody will fast track this for spring so that residents can meet the thaw with good facilities, trails, etc.
4—There is one last important thing not on the agenda or in the packet. No info or discussion is shared about the $550,000 grant the PPD just lost. A half a million dollars just slipped away, but no one has anything to say about it or is making any plans to cover the loss, etc. I know at prior meetings they talked about plans to use that money, now it’s gone, and it’s gone in great part because no one outside of themselves sees this board majority or the executive director as a good risk with a dollar. Grant money is hotly competed for and other organizations can make a better case of being fit to receive the money, able to put it to use well. THIS is where being a stubbornly uninformed and extremist majority comes back around to cost you. While discussing spending the money was appropriate, discussing what to do now that it’s gone is not. My guess is that the funds for things like the Ottawa pool upgrades, etc., will now join the list of things being paid out of contingency funds, which is ironic because it is to a degree the poor understanding and management of contingency funds since May that cost the district that grant. Who is going to give grant money to people who don’t seem to have any sense about money? Can anyone of these guys even write a winning grant proposal?
So, plenty of interesting things are happening, still, at the park district and meetings are worth going to. Oh, and if anyone from PPD is in Houston this week attending the National Recreation and Park Association annual meeting we may all get to see how the “via Skype” kind of meeting attendance works in action.
I hope to see lots of citizens—no asterisks!—at the meeting.