To The Editor: Not So Fast On ‘Great Recession’ Op-Ed

To The Editor:

With regard to your 3/30/11 commentary, “Did Mayor John A. Ostenburg Cause The Great Recession?”, the Village government’s share of property taxes for tax year 1999 for SD 163 (Rich Township) in 1999 was 21.5% and 30.6% in 2009. Conversely, the school’s share decreased from 67.3% to 60.2%.

The Village’s share growth was the result of Board of Trustee action under the leadership of Mayor Ostenburg. The tax levy in 1999 was $5,293,873 and $11,244,559 in 2009, an average annual increase of 7.9%. Recognizing that historically the Village collects 97% of the Board’s levy (see page 2-5, VOPF 2010/2011 Budget) does not change this annual increase, it remains 7.9%.

Just to be clear about the mathematics, if 97% of bills for $100.00 and $107.90 is collected, then the collected amounts will be $97.00 and $104.66. The increase in the collected amounts is ($104.66 divided by $97.00 minus 1) times 100 = 7.9%.

The growth in school taxes can be estimated using the above shares. Using Cook County Clerk numbers, the total billed tax in 1999 is $5,472,041 divided by 21.5% or $25,451,353 and $11,377,636 divided by 30.6% or $37,181,816 for 2009. The school’s share in 1999 is $25,451,353 times 67.3% or $17,128,760 and $37,181,816 times 60.2% or $22,383453 for 2009. Solving for the annul growth over the ten year period from 1999 to 2009 yields 2.71%. While the share of school taxes is lower in other parts of Park Forest, I believe that a growth of around 3% is accurate.

While Mayor Ostenburg didn’t cause the Great Recession, his financial policies have, like the Great Recession, reduced the discretionary income of most Park Forest taxpayers by greatly exceeding normal price and wage increases. For example, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Chicago Urban Area shows an annual increase of 2.2% for the period 1999 through 2009.

Richard F. Schilf
Park Forest

Related: Did Mayor John A. Ostenburg Cause The Great Recession?