Sunday, December 21, 2008

Southtown Star has a good story on the Orland Park mayoral race today

The SouthtownStar has a good story by Nathaniel Zimmer on the mayoral battle in Orland Park between 16 year incumbent Dan McLaughlin and Gerald Maher, who is making his second attempt (last time was eight years ago) to unseat McLaughlin.

Here's a link.

What I found interesting was Mayor McLaughlin's response to Maher.

I don't think McLaughlin can blow off Maher the way he did before. In the 2001 race, McLaughlin was riding high and Orland Park was on its way up. The next year, very confident, McLaughlin imposed an increase of .75 percent in the local sales tax using home rule powers -- something other communities were doing. But McLaughlin also announced a property tax rebate to compensate residents so they would not be hurt by the sales tax hike which was intended to hit out-of-towners coming in to Orland Park to shop in Orland's then bustling retail community.

Since then, the economy has tanked, Orland Park is hit particularly hardbecause McLaughlin gambled everything on retail expansion and a dependence on the sales tax revenues. And he cut the annual resident property tax rebate down significantly to about 25 percent of what it was in the past (rebating about $4.5 million out of an approved property tax levy of $17 million ... which represents a hike, even though the levy covers a period slightly more than 12 months).

And, Orland Park has seen an array of local fees increased significantly.

The real problem, of course, isn't the conomy. The reality, as everyone in Orland Park knows, is that things are not well. Many of the programs originally offered by the village originally had fees. But in the past year, the village has imposed new fees and attendance has dropped significantly.

The economy has also put a serious damper on the Christmas Season in Orland Park. The reality is there are far fewer homes in Orland Park that have expansive Christmas lighting decorations. We go on the Holiday Trolley every year -- one of the few surviving free services -- and there were so few lit homes to see it was really rather boring and embarassing.

-- Ray Hanania

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