April 27, 2010

Hyde Parkers honor Preckwinkle, decry property tax increases at Ward meeting

In one of Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle’s likely last Ward meetings, grateful Hyde Park residents nevertheless appealed significant property tax increases Saturday at the Monumental Baptist Church on East 39th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue.

Preckwinkle, currently Fourth Ward alderman, is running as the Democratic nominee for President of Cook County Board. Many attendees of Saturday’s meeting wore Preckwinkle campaign buttons and questions for other speakers were interjected with messages of support for Preckwinkle.

Some Preckwinkle supporters are enthusiastic about her campaign for President of Cook County Board but are still sad to see her leave. “Cook County’s gain is [the Fourth Ward’s] loss,” said Will Burns, the 26th District’s representative to the Illinois General Assembly. Preckwinkle recommended Burns to the position and, by virtue of her say, he will likely be her successor.

Terry Totten, a resident who frequents the monthly meetings, said Burns seemed to have “the pulse of what we need in this ward,” though it was the first time he had heard Burns speak.

In addition to discussing the future of the Fourth Ward without Preckwinkle, commissioner from the Cook County Board of Review Larry Rogers Jr., spoke about the appeals process for property assessments. Concerned about property tax increases of as much as 50 percent over last year, homeowners learned how to appeal the reevaluations.

“I never knew about all this tax stuff,” a woman said to Preckwinkle as she filled out appeal paperwork.

Although State Senator Kwame Raoul brought up Illinois’ $13 billion deficit during the meeting, many Fourth Ward residents were skeptical of the state’s financial hardship. “I don’t believe that the government is that short on funds,” attendee Jeffrey Booker said after community members and politicians referenced a recent report on aldermen’s inappropriate use of expense funds.

The Fourth Ward covers most of Kenwood and Oakland, and the northern part of Hyde Park.