Submitted by the Ela Tax Reform Party.
The Ela Tax Reform Party is a non-partisan group of residents who want to bring new ideas to Ela Township about how to manage taxpayer dollars. They are challenging the incumbent elected officials in Ela Township for Supervisor, Assessor, Clerk, Road Commissioner and four Trustee positions.
“We’re a group of business people and financial professionals who began questioning the expenditures of the Township as they spent over $2 million for the new Ela Town Hall and over a million on the Community Center without public input or a known published comprehensive short or long-term plan,” said Barbara Evans, a former Deer Park trustee, business owner and candidate for supervisor with the Ela Tax Reform Party. “After piecing together the financial documents of the Township, we saw how the Township had been over-budgeting and collecting more taxes than they needed for years without much accountability to the public. That is why we decided to run. We believe Ela Township voters want a more efficient government that is transparent about their plans and expenditures, accountable and service-oriented to the public they’re elected to serve.”
According to the latest documents made available by Ela Township at the time of this article, the township had nearly $6 million in the bank and will be collecting more than $3 million in tax revenues in 2013. “When a government body has that much in funds, they can spend it however they want, without asking voters or even holding hearings,” notes Evans. “We will not overtax in this way and be open and accountable about any projects or new services under consideration.”
On February 17th the Ela Tax Reform Party announced to the Lake Zurich Patch that, if elected, they would reduce this excess funding by abating up to $2 million back to taxpayers. At the March township government meeting and in their newsletter that was recently delivered, the township incumbents announced a much smaller reduction in the tax levy. “We’re glad that their thinking is evolving,” said Evans, “but we know there is more room for improvement in fully disclosing the fund balances and creating a more accurate budget when operating the Township.”
The Ela Tax Reform Party has also pledged to preserve and enhance senior programs, including 55 Plus, with some of the excess funds. In addition, more opportunities for teens, community groups, disabled people, veterans and families would ensure that the Community Center is a hive of activity at all times. “I’ve personally experienced being turned away when I wanted to hold a weekly community event in empty space at the Community Center and that’s not right,” said Nancy Shepherdson, a business owner and candidate for trustee with the Ela Tax Reform Party.
Road Commissioner candidate Randy Abbott has pledged to work with employees of the road department, as well as other communities in the township, to provide cost-effective but high-quality road maintenance and snow-plowing. “The township already has the equipment to provide these services, so if villages need our help to keep costs down, we will provide help to them, as well,” said Abbott, who has 18 years experience with the Ela Township roads department.
Paul Jankowski, Ela Tax Reform candidate for Clerk, and who spent 40 years as a financial executive in the service industry, has experienced firsthand the frustration in trying to get information from the Township in a timely manner. “The Township exists to serve all residents,” said Jankowski, “and there is no reason, if there is information readily available, it should not be given to a resident who asks. The Township needs to be more open, transparent, and service-oriented. Township officials should be accountable to you.”
The three remaining trustee candidates Mike Jennings, Vaseem Iftekhar andTony Lombardo would bring more than 25 years of business experience each to the board. Jennings is a business owner in Lake Zurich, Lombardo is an attorney in Mt. Prospect and Iftekhar was in strategic planning for a variety of pharmaceutical companies including Abbott.
Finally, Wayne Wnek, the Ela Tax Reform Party Assessor candidate, will ensure that Ela Township residents and businesses only pay their fair share of property taxes by equalizing assessments. “We need to change the way we assess properties in Ela Township. I want to ensure that all properties are assessed in the same manner, so that the tax burden is apportioned in a fair and equitable manner.”
The township election will take place April 9. Early voting begins March 25 at the Ela Township Hall, 1155 E. Rt. 22, Lake Zurich. For more information about the Ela Tax Reform Party, visit www.elareform.org.