Voters in Evanston, Oak Park Support Property Tax Hike

CHICAGO (CBS) — Many Americans complain about paying higher taxes.

But as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, voters in two suburban communities passed initiatives that will have them paying more in property taxes to support education.

Evanston is one of those towns, and the crowd at a local restaurant, Curt’s Cafe, couldn’t be happier.

“I believe that children are our future,” said Andrea Seeley.

“Everybody should invest in everybody’s children,” Lindsay Percival added.

About 80 percent of voters approved the tax hike to cope with mushrooming class sizes as well as to avoid teacher layoffs and program cutbacks.

The average residential property tax bill of $8,000 will increase by roughly $500, which should provide the $20 million needed annually to meet a spike in enrollment.

Beyond a strong sense of civic duty, voters responded to a well-run grassroots support campaign that Andrew Ross helped organize.

“Nobody else was going to bail us out — not D.C., not Springfield. We had to save ourselves,” Ross said, who’s with Committee To Save Our Schools.

Oak Park also approved a tax hike for similar reasons.

Homeowners with an average $10,000 property tax bill will see a rise of $740, which, again, is a reflection of the community’s investment in every family’s education.

“I break it down by day, by month, by week, and I think about the 6,000 kids that we want to make sure have a good experience,” said Holly Spurlack, a District 97 school board member.

The Oak Park tax increase passed by a smaller margin but still earned 54 percent of the vote. Both districts said larger class sizes and the cancellation of arts and enrichment programs were real possibilities if the increases were not approved.

These are both communities that define themselves by their school districts.

More from Vince Gerasole

Watch & Listen LIVE