Orland and Tinley Mayors to Springfield: Stop Messing With Our Money
At the first meeting of the Orland-Tinley Economic Committee in about five years, officials want the Illinois General Assembly to stop unfunded mandates and other moves that affect local revenue.
Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin and Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki share similar thinking when it comes to state government and other decision-making entities that can siphon tax money away from the villages.
The two agree that government officials and staff, but also residents, need to be as vocal as possible against such measures.
“We literally have to beat on their heads,” Zabrocki said during a special economic meeting Thursday night. “Because otherwise they are looking at us as a source of money. They have to fill their coffers because they haven’t done their jobs in umpteen years.”
The Orland-Tinley Economic Committee, comprised of trustees and staff from both villages, met for the first time in about five years at the Tinley Park Convention Center. The group discussed large road projects, such as the upcoming LaGrange Road widening, as well as discontent with state pension mandates and a recent planning body’s suggestion for sharing sales tax money.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning assembled a task force to make recommendations about taxing. At a recent meeting of the task force, a method of sharing sales tax between municipalities was suggested that Orland and Tinley officials believe could adversely affect revenue.
“We think their data is flawed, and we think they need to get back to the drawing board,” said Orland Park Village Manager Paul Grimes. “We’re not the only ones. There are a number of other communities, Schaumburg for example, who are dialed into this and against it. This is something that CMAP has encouraged be done. We might have to play some defense on this.”
The idea in concept is to level the tax-revenue playing field between villages such as Orland Park and Tinley Park that willingly took on retail – which also leads to greater needs for infrastructure, fire protection and law enforcement along with higher sales tax revenue – and other municipalities that have not built such sections to their towns.
Zabrocki said that the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus has questioned whether CMAP has authority to push forward such a measure.
“CMAP is not a governmental body but an overarching planning body,” said Tinley Park Village Clerk Patrick Rea. “As money gets scarce, every single one of them will look around and try to pick our pockets.”
An online sales tax is one alternative to boost revenue discussed at the meeting, held at the Tinley Park Convention Center. A bill expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in spring calls for online sales tax to be paid to the taxing body where an item is shipped. In other words, an Orland Park resident orders an item from Amazon.com, then Orland Park gets the sales tax.
But a possibility remains that the tax money would first go to the state government before moving to the municipalities.
“Heaven help us if it passes to the State of Illinois’ hands first,” said Orland Park Trustee James Dodge. “They’ll sit on it for 90 days first, if we ever get it at all.”
Rea said the villages should consider sending representatives to Washington, D.C., to make the potential local effect clear to legislators.
Both mayors emphasized a need for residents, along with officials, to voice their disappointment with the state’s financial planning, especially with regard to state-mandated pensions.
“The municipalities are required to pay the pensions but we don’t have anything to say about the benefits themselves,” McLaughlin said. “The state is approving benefits and telling us we have to pay for it. They keep throwing things in to make people happy. I was down there yesterday, talked to two state senators on that issue, they don’t even know what to say.”
Zabrocki agreed with the opinion that state decisions are solely made to please one influential group or another, without thought as to the actual effect.
“They pass it down there because it makes them look good to some particular group,” Zabrocki said. “The state’s been mismanaged for how many years? The last two governors are either in the slammer or ready to go.”