Friday, July 18, 2008

Orland "Stepford Wives" Park and soaring tax increases reflected in our "Water Bills"

Have you taken a close look at your Water Bill lately? It isn't fair to call it a "Water Bill" because in truth, the majority of the "bill" isn't about water any more. It doesn't look like it has gone up over the years, but it has. And much of the increases are TAX INCREASES!

They said the water bills increase are due to the increases imposed by the City of Chicago (and Mayor Daley's excessive and oppressive tax increases) and by Oak Lawn, which is our "agent" for Lake Michigan water sold by Chicago.

But most of the increase comes from other services that increased, too, and some of them are TAX INCREASES.

The bill breaks down as follows:

  • Water Service
  • Sewer Service
  • Storm Water Service
  • Village Service Charge
  • Garbage Service

My last bill was $96.98. Only $42.57 was for water. The remainder is $54.41, which includes the $7.51 Service Charge imposed to manage the bi-monthly billing by the Village of Orland Park.

The billing system is also about two months behind. My last bill covered the period from March 20, 2008 to May 23, 2008. And of course, we are in the "Control Season" where water is used the most to keep the lawns from dying. That means my water bill for June-July and August-Sept. is going to skyrocket even more when those bills hit in October and then December? Yikes!

-- Actually, I was thinking to apply to the Village to see if I can get permission to grow one of those "Green Lawns" that they have around the Award Winning Orland Park Police Building that Congressman Judy Biggert made time to help showcase recently after residents complained to the that the lawn was not being mowed and it looked unkempt. It still looks unkempt, but now they have a reason. Anyway, not watering the lawn would keep the water portion of my bill from skyrocketing when that bill arrives after the summer. I love the way that the news reports on the Police Building ignored public concerns about its shabby look -- remember, Orland Park is an Award Winning Town and the Police Station is an Award Winning Station and Mayor Dan McLaughlin is an Award Winning Mayor. I feel like this is an episode of the Stepford Wives here. There's no such thing as bad news and when it does get reported on this blog and on other blogs, the local media ignores that! Can't showcase the dirt.

What's really depressing about this is how significant the increases in the "Water Bill" have been over the past four years.

Water Service and Garbage Service costs are not necessarily tax increases, if we assume they reflect the actual increase in the cost of service. But the increases in the Sewer Service, the Storm Water Service and especially the Village Service Charge ARE TAX INCREASES.

Here's an overview:


In calculating the increase, you can't just compare water charges from one period to another. I looked back in 2004, and pulled a bill from May 27-July 29, 2004, which was a higher water usage period than the one I am comparing it with. But, you can calculate the precise cost of a "UNIT of Water." I used 11 Units in this current billing period. Four years ago, I used 13 Units of water at a cost of $33.41.

It doesn't sound like much of an increase, does it? Going from $33.41 back in 2004 to $42.57 today. It is an increase of only $9.16. But, that's misleading.

The cost of a Unit of Water in 2004 was $2.5. The cost of a Unit of Water in 2008 is $3.5. (According to my bill.)

That means the cost of water has increased $1, or 40 percent in the past four years. That is NOT a tax increase, though. It's an increase in the cost of a product Orland Stepford Wives Park must purchase.


Also not a Tax Increase, though, is the cost of the Garbage Service, which went up, too. It was $26 in 2004 and in my current bill is $34.30. That's an increase of $8.30, which represents an increase in costs of 32 percent, which is the highest damn increase in the whole bill.


But, what are tax increases we know for sure?


Of course, with the money wasted by the village to purchase those selected homes damaged by water in 1996, the cost of the Storm Water Service surcharge increased even more significantly from $2.47 in 2004 when the service stunk, to $6.72 this past bill cycle.

That is a 172 percent increase in the Storm Sewer surcharge imposed by the village. That's a TAX INCREASE, by the way. But who cares in Orland Stepford Wives Park?

That is an ENORMOUS INCREASE to cover the village's mishandled attempts to correct the poor storm water drainage system that was devasting homes, and still does.

Not that the village engineering company gives a crap about that -- they cared about some homes but ignored challenges facing others homes based on political considerations -- which is one reason why I think Mayor McLaughlin is not that great of a mayor. He has that 19th Ward political vindicitiveness running through his political veins and he likes to pretend he's just a nice guy. Right!


What's the TAX INCREASE on the Village Service Charge?

Well, that went up from $6.70 in 2004 to $7.51 in the current cycle. That is an increase of .81 cents, or a TAX INCREASE of 12 percent.


The Sewer Service also went up by the same suspicious amount, 81 cents, from $5.07 in 2004 to $5.88 in this current bill. An increase of 16 percent. (I'm going to guess they just tacked on the .81 cents to each of the Service Charge and to the Serwer Service charge.) That's a TAX INCREASE, too.

(On my math: I calculated the difference in the bill from today and the past, and then divided that by the past bill to determine what percentage it was of the past bill amount to reflect the percentage increases. For example, the Old Garbage bill was $26 and the new one is $34.30. That's an increase of $8.30. Multiply the $26 by 100 and divide it by $8.30 and you get 32 percent. $8.30 represents 32 percent of the old bill, which is the increase amount.)


Non-Tax Increases

  • Water Charges have gone up 40 percent in the past four years.
  • Garbage collection has gone up 32 percent

Not a tax increase, but an increase in product costs.

Real Tax Increases

  • Storm Water Service has gone up 172 percent
  • Sewer Service has gone up 16 percent
  • Village Service Surcharge has gone up 12 percent

So, don't let them tell you there hasn't been a tax increase in "Orland Stepford Wives Park."

There have been tax increases!

Oh, and did I mention an election is coming up in the Spring?

Believe me when I tell you that if it wasn't for news and opinion sites like this one, the politicians would lie to you through their noses because they know the local papers, which are under a lot of political pressure from the mayor, would not want to piss him off.

Which means that you, the ignored citizen of Orland Park, and me, the OrlandParker, have to do the heavy lifting here.

Ray Hanania

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