Wirepoints dissects Maine Township's tax crisis
As overall property values in Park Ridge continue to suffer the effects of the recession a decade ago, and school-district spending continues to rise, Wirepoints reports that taxpayers are left to pick up the slack out of their own pockets.
Many residents of the northwest suburb in Maine Township have had enough of a system that continually demands more from them to compensate for rising school costs and out-of-control pension debt.
“People think that appealing their property assessments solves the problem,” said Park Ridge resident Steve Schildwachter. “But all that does is push the burden away from you and onto your neighbors. It doesn’t do anything to lower overall taxes or slow down spending, driven largely by school districts. The real problem is spending. Governments decide how much they want to spend and then they just give you your share of the bill.”
In Park Ridge School District 64, property values have dipped by at least 21 percent over the last decade, a period also blighted by taxes being raised by 17 percent, more than $10 million. More than just a fraction of that money has been earmarked for school funding, where at least 40 percent of the district’s full-time employees earned upwards of six-figures in 2018, topping out at around $300,000.
Over time, those debts will swell into the millions as pension obligations and other benefits kick in for retirees. All of that is happening as public safety pension costs also rise dramatically and less active members actually pay into pension systems.
As bad as things are, Park Ridge is hardly an island in its suffering. Residents in all four of Maine Township's major cities are being forced to pay property tax rates in the neighborhood of 2 percent, one of the highest rates across the country.