Voters overwhelmingly supported a Tuesday ballot initiative calling for government entities within Kendall County to cut 20 percent from every tax levy and area officials have heard the message.
According to unofficial results from Tuesday’s election, 71 percent of voters supported the call for property tax reduction.
Mark Johnson, an activist who helped put the referendum on the ballot, said the results speak for themselves.
“The people have spoken. Now we’ll see which groups will listen,” Johnson said.
Earlier this year a grassroots group called the Kendall County Property Tax Revolt circulated petitions to get this non-binding referendum on the ballot. Although the referendum is not binding, supporters hope it sends a message to trim the non-essentials and provide Kendall County property owners some tax relief.
The group’s message and its support at the ballot box has caught the attention of area leaders.
Bob Mattingly, board president for the Oswegoland Park District, said his board will discuss the referendum and how it may be addressed by the district. However, he said a 20 percent cut is unlikely as that would cost the district approximately $1 million annually.
“That would be something we could never get back to preserve the district and all it offers,” Mattingly said in a Wednesday telephone interview.
County Board Member-elect Matt Prochaska said he was surprised by the amount of support the referendum garnered.
“I was sure it was going to pass, but I am overwhelmed by the support. It definitely sent a clear signal,” Prochaska said Wednesday morning.
Prochaska said the county board will have to examine expenses and see where cuts can be made. He agreed that property taxes across the county are too high.
“In any budget there’s always room for cuts, but it may not be 20 percent,” Prochaska said. “We don’t want to cut services that are required and are necessary and proper for a government to be doing.”
Brian LeClercq, village president in Oswego, said he and other board members are open to discussing cuts in the levy with Tax Revolt members.
“I would like to chat with them about where cuts might be made. I always have been and always will be open to folks coming in and looking at the financials,” LeClercq said.
While LeClercq is open to a discussion, he said Oswego leaders have been cutting costs in the village for the past four years. Deeper budget cuts could hinder essential services, he said.
“Oswego went through a painful process several years ago and got rid of some staff members who were well liked and respected. It was a tough cut to make, but we did it,” he said.
Johnson said Tax Revolt members will be closely monitoring the tax levy processes across the county. If the referendum is largely ignored he predicted a number of people who support the proposal will run for municipal office in the spring election.