In a stunning exercise in transparency and government for the people, by the people; Illinoisians stopped a $1.5 million civic center from being built in their township. See the entire article here.
Back in 2004, subdivisions were rapidly sprouting up in the township’s cornfields and its finances looked strong. Today, homes in surrounding Will County have lost 29% of their value on average since August 2006 and one in 10 homeowners is 90 days or more behind on their mortgage, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate data firm.
Nationally, voters are denying referendums to float bonds for public projects twice as often as they did during the boom years, according to the Bond Buyer, a trade journal.
“There’s a lot of people out here who are unemployed and have no money for food,” said Chuck Miller, a field representative for a roofing company.
The plan to forge ahead with a new building of up to 7,300 square feet didn’t sit well with Ms. Holscher, who learned about it at a township meeting last summer. A 54-year-old retired professor of occupational therapy, Ms. Holscher is a veteran local political activist who rails against government waste. She called the planned building the Taj Mahal and started rounding up allies by sending an email blast to more than 700 like-minded fiscal conservatives.
At this year’s annual meeting in April, she brought about 100 people with her. But she was turned down for procedural reasons when she tried to introduce a motion to conduct a study of the need for the building.
“I said, whoa, I can’t believe they’re going to get away this,” she said.
An ally in the crowd asked what the opposition could do to force a reassessment. Ms. Krafthefer, the township attorney, said they could petition for a new meeting.
Ms. Holscher hastily scratched out this sentence on a legal pad: “Petition for a special meeting to discuss overturning the new building.” She passed the pad around and collected 17 signatures, two more than required. By submitting it, she leveraged a 100-year-old law granting citizens unusual power in township governance.
This article is especially relevant to St. Louis County voters right now, because County Executive Dooley is proposing a property tax hike on county residents. Of course this is ludicrous. Taxpayers are already dealing with sky high gas prices and inflation at the grocery. To ask for more tax on homes that have significantly decreased in value is unacceptable.
Let your voice be heard at this week’s County Council meeting in Clayton at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 . The address is County Council Chambers, 1st Floor, 41 South Central Avenue in Clayton, Missouri 63105.
HT to the MOPP: Missouri Precinct Project & Frieda Keogh
UPDATE – I attended the meeting last night and heard impassioned testimony from St. Louis County residents opposing the property tax increase. So the county council tabled the issue until next week. (suprise!)