February 19th, 2020
Taxpayers Fight Back in Oak Park and Riverside-Brookfield
CHICAGO- Two lawsuits were filed today in Illinois by disgruntled taxpayers and Taxpayers United of America (TUA). The suits attack the way in which the property tax increase referenda were placed on the April 5th ballot in Oak Park School District 97 and in Riverside-Brookfield District 208. Both of those districts as well as at least 8 other districts miscalculated the amount of the property tax increase resulting in a much lower amount than is actually the case.
“This lawsuit is meant to send a strong message to public employees and their unions that electioneering cannot be conducted on taxpayer dime,” said Tony Peraica, former Cook County Commissioner and plaintiff for the Riverside-Brookfield lawsuit. “As taxpayers, we must hold our elected officials accountable. When union or political activity is done on taxpayer paid time, it is important that those who violated the law are held responsible.”
Both school districts knew in advance of the election that the ballot did not accurately reflect the amount of the property tax increase. The individual members of each board have been named in the lawsuits. Any money damages would come from those individuals and not the taxpayers.
“The taxpayers in Oak Park and Riverside-Brookfield should not be forced to pay for the defense of these board members who knew what they were doing was wrong but went ahead and did it anyway,” said Christina Tobin, Vice President of TUA.
The State of Illinois was so concerned about this issue that its House of Representatives voted 110-0 (HB 363) to require using the actual figures on the ballot so people will know the true amount of the tax increase.
The Riverside-Brookfield lawsuit also challenges the illegal electioneering which took place in that election. TUA decided to act after both the Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Anita Alvarez failed to take any action.