Public Watchdog.org

Park District Spares Taxpayers, Ticks Freeloaders

10.21.15

Readers of this blog know that we’re not the biggest fans of Park Ridge Park District Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle.

Not because she’s a bad person. She isn’t, although we try to leave those kinds of judgments to higher powers because they’re generally above our pay grade.

Our main beefs with Mountcastle are the things she has done in her ED role that we find abhorrent to honest, transparent and accountable government – most notably her manipulation of too-compliant Park Board members to push through a second/third-rate, over-budget $8 million Centennial water park without the voter referendum that previous directors and park boards scrupulously held for every major Park District project since the misbegotten Community Center was built, without referendum, 20+ years ago.

And a design and budgeting process for the new Prospect Park that now seems inept at best, and a bait-and-switch at worst.

But we have to give the “devil” (tongue firmly planted in cheek) her due – and also toss a few kudos in the Park Board’s direction – for turning the District’s collection of amenities into a business-like operation that is projected to derive nearly 51% of its budgeted revenues – up almost 4% from the current year’s projections – not by squeezing already-pinched taxpayers for more property taxes but, instead, through charging user fees.

What a novel concept for government: Make the District’s pay-per-use facilities and programs provide enough value that residents, and even non-residents, are actually willing to pay something close to fair market price for them!

Well, not quite all of our residents.

There’s a contingent of local “freeloaders” – our one-word shorthand for what we otherwise would have to describe, in 31 words, as “those residents who are always looking to leverage maximum benefits for themselves, their families and their friends by shifting the costs of those benefits onto the backs of their fellow taxpayers” – who don’t like these fee increases one bit.

How do we know?

Because perhaps the most outspoken poster-child for local freeloading of all types, Kathy Panattoni Meade, tells us so.

Shortly after the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate published its article about the Park District’s plan to increase certain user fees in its 2016 budget (“Park Ridge pool passes, fitness center memberships could get more expensive,” Oct. 6), KPM was burning up the Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners Group Facebook page about…wait for it…how she pays taxes that should entitle her to free use of whatever her heart desires, including all Park District facilities and programs.

Just for kicks, let’s look at a few of her FB comments – which we present in italics, followed with our own comments in bold for the reader’s convenience:

“I can put my kids in programs in other communities for less money – even as a non-resident. This enrages me because my taxes should be offsetting the cost of the programs.”

Vaya con Dios, KPM. If you can get a better deal in Niles, Skokie, Winnetka, Lake Bluff or Medicine Hat, adios!

“If the price of the pool passes is going up then the ban on outside food needs to be lifted. The Park District can not ask people to pay over $200 [for a family full-season pool pass] and then forced [sic] Park Ridge residents to pay for over-priced snacks. That is unconscionable.”

Let’s try some Econ 101, KPM: If you aren’t going to go to the pools often enough to justify the family full-season pool pass, don’t buy one! Problem solved…without the Park District having to change its rules to let you roll in a cooler of drinks, a bucket of KFC, or a 6-foot sub from Tony’s.

“I have no problems with paying high taxes for services and that our high taxes in Park Ridge should be off setting the price of the programs at the PRPD.”

Let’s try a little more Econ 101: If the increased fees are paying only 51% of the District’s budgeted revenues, 49% of the budgeted revenues are still being covered by the taxpayers. Reducing the fee revenues as you desire means the taxpayers – including you – will need to pay even higher taxes. But, then again, freeloaders like you don’t mind higher taxes so long as you can recoup them through excessive use of the facilities and services.

“I don’t mind paying high taxes. I knew it was part of the package when I moved here. I want to live in a community where people aren’t complaining that the police are overpaid or the teachers are overpaid yet the city manager is making $140k and the school superintendent is making nearly $200k.”

That “$140k” (actually more than $150K) for the City Mgr., and that “nearly $200k” (actually $250K-plus) for the D-64 Supt. presumably reflects the fact that both of them are the CEOs of their respective $70 Million-plus business enterprises. A patrolman starts at around 40% of the City Mgr.’s salary, and a classroom teacher starts at about 25% of the Supt.’s salary. So your beef is…?

“I posted about the holiday lights which sparked a conversation and now a fund to pay for the holiday lights!”

KPM, you had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the creation of the Park Ridge Holiday Lights Fund. And, true to your freeloader form, as of the time of publication of this post the Fund has no record of your having donated one cent – as if that should come as any surprise.

But enough about the freeloader mentality and the freeloaders who revel in it.

The Park District really is onto something. And all you taxpayers – you folks who are net “payers,” as opposed to the net “users” (like KPM) whose principal goal is to pull more out of the public trough than they put into it – should be supporting that effort.

Now that the Park District is crossing the 50% threshold of non-tax revenue, its next goal should be having tax dollars cover only those CAPITAL costs of the District’s parks and facilities, while having user fees cover all the operating expenses.

That’s the kind of twofer we like: Making the taxpayers happy.

And making the freeloaders howl.

To read or post comments, click on title.

24 comments so far

Good job by the Park District. Let the freeloaders pound sand.

You once again have hit the nail on the head.

My wife and I bought a home in Park Ridge 30 years ago. The value has a bit more than doubled, but the taxes have tripled. We’re now empty nesters who want to stay and intend to stay here. But our empty-nest neighbors a few doors down recently sold and a family with three young kids moved in. They will be major “users” replacing major “payers.” And payers like us will have to pick up the difference. So the Park District is doing the right thing for the community.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And yet another household that pays (for example) $5,000 of taxes to D-64 (out of a $15,000 tax bill) without using services is replaced by a household that will consume $14,000 of education expense if just one of those three kids attends a D-64 school, and the $9,000 delta falls on the other.

I almost forgot: entitlement attitudes like Ms. Meade’s are what are changing Park Ridge for the worse. Park District taxpayers should pay for the capital assets, users should pay for most of the operating expenses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s only because you’re not a freeloader.

I’m a member of the Concerned Homeowners FB page and the Citizens Online FB page, and I have been reading KPM’s comments on both for awhile. I have to assume she is a stay-at-home mom because I cannot imagine how she could hold a job while posting so many things of FB.

As one half of a two-income household, my advice to her would be either get a job so that you can afford to pay for the things you want for free, or buy a cheaper home in a cheaper community like Des Plaines or Franklin Park.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Or how about: “Shut up and be grateful to live in such a fine community off other people’s tax dollars”?

7:06:

I am wondering if you just noticed this. I mean spending (in PR and all over) has been out of control for much of the 30 years you have lived here. Your taxes have tripled over a 30 year period, not in the last week.

I would also submit that folks selling and moving, whether by choice or due to age related health issues, is not anything new either and younger families buying those properties is not a break through.

By the way, there is another way to look at your “problem”. Be grateful!! Your house value has doubled!! Do you think those new folks who just bought down the street from you have any shot at that happening???

EDITOR’S NOTE: 7:06 can speak for him/herself, but why would you suggest that a house doubling in value over 30 years is unlikely to happen?

How do you know who is and isn’t donating to the holiday lights fund? Are they keeping a naughty list for you to peruse expressly for your own personal humiliation?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, in the interest of complete transparency, the Fund posts its donors on-line and accessible to all: http://www.parkridgelights.com/ways-to-give/our-donors/

So now your point it…?

I suspect that KPM would be unhappy wherever she lived. I’d suggest she try a commune instead of a community, but I doubt she’d like that either. Seems like she has a small group of followers who feed into her vitriol, but does anyone really care what she thinks? Not moi!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nah, she and her cadre of freeloaders will probably be okay so long as they can get all the free stuff to which they think they’re entitled. Or, more accurately, get $10 of stuff for every $1 of extra taxes they pay because the rest of us are paying the other $9 for them.

Stupid people think our “government” (City, Park District, School Districts, etc.) has its own money when the only money it has is our money. So are the people who want everything for free stupid or are they intentionally taking money from their neighbors but unwilling to admit it?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’d go with the latter.

Slightly off topic but KPM related. Her Concerned Homeowners Group website contains an advertisement for a holiday ornament being sold by Mary Wynn Ryan for $25 and some of which is supposed to go to the Holiday Lights Fund. You’re on that Fund committee, so how much is the Holiday Lights Fund getting?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor, speaking solely for himself and not for the Fund or anyone else affiliated with the Fund, hopes NOTHING – because this appears to be just another attempt by Ms. Ryan to enrich herself under the guise of public-spiritedness.

Ms. Ryan did not seek the Fund’s approval before she brazenly tied her private for-profit marketing efforts to the Fund’s non-profit community-based fundraising efforts.

And when Fund representatives informed the various sites/FB pages on which Ryan had posted her Fund-aligned ads (e.g., Park Ridge Citizens Online) that she had acted without the Fund’s knowledge or authorization, all of them reportedly removed those posts – except for, SURPRISE!, KPM’s Homeowners Group FB page.

Proving, yet again, that freeloaders of a feather flock together.

Bob, you are a truly wretched, utterly dishonest and sick as hell human being. Shame on you for your neverending toxic schlock. I am sorry for your obvious misery, but even sorrier for every time I ever defended your intentions. Anyone who knows me knows better, and I wish you and your kind all the luck you will need in your pathetic quest to improve life by defecating on all that makes life worth living.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s EXACTLY the kind of response we would expect from a freeloader (or parasite) who gets caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar – and then gets called on it. Thanks for not disappointing.

And it’s EXACTLY what those of us who have watched how opportunistically you have conducted your “public” life, whether to advance your various for-profit marketing jobs or now with your for-profit ornament sales tied to the non-profit Holiday Lights Fund (without even any prior notice or permission), have come to expect.

I look forward to many more years of vigorously opposing your self-interested, welfare-for-the-already-well-off, soak-the-taxpayer brand of quasi-socialism – so long as it doesn’t interfere with ornament sales, of course – and to the freeloading that goes with it.

And I also look forward to your continued opposition to the “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” view of government that I and others are working toward in our community. Because your opposition is an excellent endorsement.

Kiss kiss, hug hug.

Boy, Ms. Ryan sure doesn’t sound like that smiley lady in her FB picture, and she really doesn’t like you, Mr. Editor. People like here must not like being outed as hypocrites and money-grubbers. How much of her $25 per ornament is she supposed to contribute for Holiday Lights?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That apparently was her little secret. But since being outed and throwing her snit, we wouldn’t expect anything.

KPM doesn’t mind paying the higher taxes in Park Ridge. It would be interesting to know just how much she contributes. What exactly IS her annual property tax bill, and what percentage of that goes to D64 and to the Park District?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course she minds. Freeloaders always mind paying for anything. But they say they don’t mind to conceal their greedy attempts to suck far more money out of the tax-funded public trough than they put in.

We have no idea what KPM’s RE tax bill is, but the most expensive homes in Park Ridge is 726 Hastings (built in 2005 and sold for $1.3 million), which sold again in July for $2 million. Its RE taxes for 2013 (the latest year reported) were $30,107. The 1/3 of that which D-64 receives, $10,000, doesn’t even cover the $14,000 cost for one child. And the Park District gets about 5%, or $1,500.

We suspect KPM pays a whole lot less.

So I got home after last nights nail-biter over at Maine South and had a difficult time getting to sleep. I decided to pop I my “It’s a Wonerful Life” blu ray. Ya know I had forgotten about some of the most powerful scenes in the movie.

I just loved the part where the two (adult??) Bedford Falls residents got in a public slap fight around who when and how folks would donate to the Bailey’s.

I also was moved when they posted the names of all who donated and how much in the center of town for all to see(were you a gold sponsor or just a standard sponsor??). It was done in the name of transparency of course!!

But my favorite part was when Mr. Martini got to go home and put in his yard sign so that all his neighbors and everyone who drove by would know what a great person he was. After all he would not want do donate to something he believes in without getting credit for it!!

By the end or the movie I actually had a tear in my eye. Ya just gotta love the holidays!! Meeeeerryyyy Christmas!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We understand Capra wrote a scene in which ZuZu was going to sell “angel bells” and donate some unspecified portion of the sale price to the Bailey Brothers’ Building & Loan, but he cut the scene because it made ZuZu seem so unbelievably selfish and cheesy.

No signs were needed because the generous, non-freeloader citizens of Bedford Falls all brought their money to George’s house on Christmas Eve, so they all could see who contributed and how much – except for Sam Wainwright, who’s cablegram from London pledging $25,000 was read out loud by Ernie, so he didn’t need a sign, either.

Maybe you should watch the movie again tonight, but this time with your freeloader blindfold removed and after having pulled the stick out of your derriere.

You never fail to set the bar for personal integrity lower, taking personal, petty, vindictive shots at people whenever it suits your whims. Tutors at the library. Staff at the library. Now Ms. Meade. Who’s next is anyone’s guess. And you claim to be apolitical, what a joke. You and your few miserable out if touch cronies are about as political as they come. And as crazy. I guess every town has its resident crank. Congratulations, you’ve more than earned that designation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Similar to the way prosecutors justify their use of the testimony of low-life witnesses to convict defendants by saying the defendant chose those witnesses by associating with them, the people we criticize have invited it by their shameless freeloader/parasitic ideas and behavior usually designed to rip-off their fellow taxpayers.

And we take being called “crank” by the anonymous likes of you as a compliment. So thank you.

No wonder some people don’t like you. You tell it like it is while they like their self-serving fiction. When somebody is selling something and giving a portion to a charity they always say how much they are giving (example: “$5.00 of every sale will go to”) but Ms Ryan just said “a portion of the profit.” And Ms. Meade’s comments speak for themselves.

Instead of watching it’s a wonderful life, Ms. Ryan should take the time to time to watch Gary Ccoper’s performance in “High Noon.” Hopefully she would understand how repugnant the likes of her are as depicted at the end of that film.

Great response to Ryan’s rant and spot on. I wish more of our public officials dared to speak truth to “freeloaders.” Keep doing it because its catching on, slowly but surely.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s the only way we roll.

For the first 14 years I lived in Park Ridge only a very few officials said and did things to benefit low-impact taxpayers like my wife and I. But after mayor Schmidt got elected it seemed like more officials, especially at the city, did so and continue to do so. However, until what you call the “freeloaders” get shamed into hiding or moving, they and complicit bureaucrats and press will continue to make Park Ridge a place for users to thrive and non-users to flee. And that’s when Park Ridge becomes Chicago-like.

I believe KPM’s property taxes on Talcott for the past several years are/were:

YEAR PROPERTY TAXES TAX ASSESSMENT
2013 $4,983 (-19.9%) $20,243
2012 $6,219 (+3.2%) $28,218
2011 $6,026 (+0.5%) $28,218
2010 $5,996 (+1.7%) $28,218

EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on the address you provided and the information available online, those numbers would appear to be correct.

This blog has offended Ms. Meade and Ms. Gaffke on the Concerned Homeowners FB page, who think it is dirty pool for the editor of this “controlled blog” to quote or comment from “his basement” on their FB comments other than on FB.

You have some nerve quoting them!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor lives in a condo sans basement, so another myth is busted.

Apparently nobody told them that FB is a “public” medium with no right to privacy.

Haven’t commented in a long while but seeing Mrs. Meade’s property tax payments compels me to observe:

She claims not to mind “paying high taxes” but it seems her taxes are not that high, and what’s more, she has fought to reduce them to $4,983. How close is she to Lowest Park Ridge Property Tax Bill?

Cheers to the Park District for achieving 51% in revenue from fees. Jeers to Mrs. Meade for demanding more from the rest of us instead of paying her fair share.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Isn’t that usually the case?

It’s disappointing that a group that bills themselves as independent and not associated with the government would use public property to advertise for their campaign (signs at the train station and in the park ways, against City code). Especially since this group is run by public officials or previous public officials who know better.

It’s also disappointing that our elected officials use this forum to post anonymously (10.23.15 7:45am) and call out specific individuals. The elected official responsible for this post used the same language when contacting fb group administrators requesting that Ms. Ryan’s post be taken down. And for the record, it is my understanding that not only did Ms. Ryan contact the holiday lights group and ask before she posted (to which they did not respond), but that she ponied up $500 before selling any ornaments.

Too bad our public officials don’t spend the time they’ve dedicated to this pet project on issues that really matter to our City.

EDITOR’S NOTE: All signs put up by the Holiday Lights Fund were placed legally – largely because many of its members are current public officials who are aware of the City codes.

If you have hard evidence – and not mere anonymous speculation – that a particular elected official posted the comment on 10.23.15 @ 7:45am, produce it. Otherwise, we’ll treat is as the tripe it appears to be.

And finally, although it’s clear that facts aren’t a major concern of yours, Ms. Ryan “ponied up $500” by PayPal Friday (10/30) afternoon – more than a week after she posted her unauthorized ads tying her ornament sales to the Holiday Lights Fund.

The job of a Public official isn’t to advocate for a cause like the Holiday Lights Fund or to encourage residents on how to vote for a referendum. It’s primary responsibility is to educate the public on issues so they can make informed decisions…….sounds familiar Bob?….you’re the one who said it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Holiday Lights Fund is a PRIVATE effort, not a PUBLIC one – so the Fund’s PRIVATE operation is unrelated to the PUBLIC duties of the elected and appointed officials on the Fund committee. And the Fund doesn’t involve a referendum.

So you’re just totally lost in the funhouse, anon.

$4,983 This has to be the bottom 10% of property tax bills here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We haven’t seen or done a study, but that sounds right. And of that $5,000, approx. $1,700 goes to D-64. So if that particular taxpayer sends just one kid to a D-64 school (at approx. $14,000/year of cost), that taxpayer is saddling her fellow taxpayers with over $12,000 of uncovered tuition costs. And $26,000 of uncovered tuition costs if a second kid is enrolled. Each year.

And THAT, dear readers, is what we call a “freeloader.”



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