My wife and I have lived in Arlington Heights since 1998. We own a small split-level south of Central sitting on a postage stamp-sized lot of 5,400 square feet. We chose Arlington Heights for its amenities such as location to shopping, a world-class library and nearby recreational parks.
I've noted with resignation the gradual increases in my Cook County real estate tax bill. My escrow payments went up, but I considered taxes one of those inevitable, unchangeable facts of life.
Then I received my second installment for 2011 -- over $1,000 more than my last bill. I calculated that although my property had decreased 30 percent in value since 2007; my taxes increased over 50 percent. By comparison, my father, who lives on four acres in Barrington on property worth three times more than mine, pays $2,000 less a year than I do.
I recently read about the Arlington Heights Park District pushing for a tax referendum in November for $48 million to overhaul its parks and build new facilities. Residents defeated this referendum four months ago, but now the AHPD is making another attempt to ram it through by tossing in a bone to build a dog park to make the tax more acceptable to voters. Seriously?
Deciding to see for myself why the AHPD needs $48 million I visited four parks: Heritage; Recreation; Camelot and Frontier. The basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, playgrounds and gymnasiums were all deserted. At Frontier, kids were riding their bicycles around the tennis court practicing wheelies. Meeting rooms were unused. There was ample parking and plenty of open space for drop-offs.
At a time when people are losing their jobs and companies are cutting costs, downsizing and consolidating it makes no sense to burden taxpayers with frivolous expansion projects that few residents will use.