In the ‘defund the police’ conversation, what we’re really saying is that a lot of what the police get called on to do, would be better served by trained and funded social services, yes? CIT (crisis intervention team) for serious homeless mental health issues, for just one example. It seems like where I live, the latter are services that fall under the Township’s provenance, by Oak Park’s charter, yes?
Given that, it seems to me like the first step in actually making that budgetary shift would entail changing the tax structure to shift some percentage of funds from the Village to the Township.
I realize that I may seem to be proposing something pretty drastic here, and I’m not sure how difficult it is to make that kind of change. But the current tax percentages are not magic. They were set, by people, as priorities at the time these taxing bodies were formed, and presumably, they can be changed. By referendum?
So, I guess I have two questions:
a) am I correct in thinking that we may need to shift the percentage that the Village and the Township tax, respectively, in order to effectively have the Township pick up more of the social service work that the police are currently being asked to bear?
b) what would be the governmental steps necessary to make that shift? Would it happen at the Oak Park level, or at a state level?
As a side note: I feel like since I’m running for D200 school board, and currently serve on the library board, it’s reasonably appropriate for me to raise this question, since this proposed shift wouldn’t affect my candidacy either way. I do understand that there are those on the Village board / staff who may feel threatened by this proposition, as it could potentially cost jobs there (while potentially opening up jobs at the Township).
I want to be sensitive to that — my own priority would be to avoid cutting jobs (or even salaries) whenever possible, especially in these difficult times, and if that means we hold off on some infrastructure beautification projects, etc., that makes sense to me.