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Opinion

At least the Joliet Park District got 71% again

Joliet Park District President Sue Gulas (left) and commissioner Joe Clement (right) listen to public comments during a tax referendum public forum Feb. 21 at the Hartman Recreation Center in Joliet.
Joliet Park District President Sue Gulas (left) and commissioner Joe Clement (right) listen to public comments during a tax referendum public forum Feb. 21 at the Hartman Recreation Center in Joliet.

Do the math, and it’s ironic at least to see how voters reacted Tuesday to the Joliet Park District referendum for a property tax increase.

In 2014, just under 71% of the voters approved a referendum that allowed the park district to issue bonds and borrow $90.5 million for a variety of projects.

On Tuesday, just under 71% of the voters turned down the park district referendum seeking a hike in the property tax rate worth an additional $5 million a year.

The latest referendum involved a 58% increase in the property tax rate, so it’s not hard to fathom that voters would be reluctant.

Add to that the fact that they had just approved the referendum less than five years ago, and park officials knew the odds were against them.

What’s next?

Park District Executive Director Tom Carstens said staff is developing a plan on how to deal with what he has been calling a “financial crisis.”

“Staff has begun meeting,” he said. “We’ll bring something to the board within the next two to three weeks if not sooner.”

The next regular meeting of the park board is April 15.

Board President Sue Gulas said staff is developing a list of options ranging from small savings such as shutting down a front desk at a facility to big savings from closing the entire facility.

“We all have to get together and decide what makes the most sense,” Gulas said.

Family party

Council member Pat Mudron celebrated his re-election Tuesday with friends and family at The Dock at Inwood, the restaurant at the park district’s Inwood complex.

But Mudron said he was hardly the focus of attention.

The election-night party was combined with a confirmation party for a granddaughter who had been confirmed that day, birthday parties for two other granddaughters, a birthday party for his wife, Andrea, and an anniversary party for a friend of the family.

“I am the last one on the list,” Mudron said. “They were coming to the party regardless of me.”

Welcome aboard

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk ran unopposed and was re-elected to a second term, but he still held a party at the Cantigny Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 367.

O’Dekirk then took a drive to Jameson’s Pub, where Sherri Reardon’s supporters gathered for what turned out to be a victory in City Council District 3, to congratulate her once the results were in.

“I think we’ve got a good group,” O’Dekirk said of the council, which included all incumbents who had been re-elected plus Reardon, who will replace John Gerl, who opted not to run for re-election.

Council members will be sworn into office at the May 6 pre-council meeting.

• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or bokon@shawmedia.com.

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