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Defeated referendum back before voters again March 19

By Eric Crump, Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

HOMEWOOD, Ill. (February 22, 2024) – Thornton Township is again asking voters to approve a proposal to fund mental health services, even after it was defeated in 2023.

Voters will find three questions on the March 19 primary election ballot:

  • Raise taxes to organize a mental health service. It is estimated to cost $43.86 yearly for a home valued at $100,000.
  • Should the township open a second food pantry in the township to provide food assistance to the residents of Thornton Township.
  • Should the township charge a fee of $2 per person, which shall increase annually by the cost of living, for access to the township’s soup and salad bar.

These voters will be able to decide whether the township should establish a mental health services board. The question appears on the ballot after it was defeated 51%-49% in April 2023. The measure calls for a tax not to exceed 0.15% based on equalized assessed value (EAV) to provide community mental health facilities and services.

The proposal is expected to raise $22.7 million on 2024 taxes. The tax will be collected semi-annually, or twice a year. It is expected to cost $43.86 per year on a house valued at $100,000.

In a flier mailed recently to residents, township officials note that the measure “is designed to tackle a wide range of mental health concerns, such as developmental disabilities, substance abuse and suicide prevention.”

The flier also indicates the proposed tax increase would fund programs for seniors to address isolation, grief, and anxiety.

Some elected officials representing township residents opposed the referendum last year, and Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld remains opposed to the proposal. He was among 13 elected officials who distributed a letter last year outlining the reasons for their opposition.

Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam also signed the letter of opposition, and confirmed this week she remains opposed to the proposal.

“We had stated we believe in mental health services. They’re sorely needed; however, the proper place is the county and the state level, not the township,” Hofeld said.

He was critical of the ballot language, which provided an estimated tax impact of $21.93 semiannually for a home with a market value of $100,000, which means the annual amount is doubled.

The ballot language in 2023 did not include an estimated tax impact, but at a January 2023 board meeting, township Director of Finance Robert Hunt said taxes would increase by $45, or $3.75 a month, for a home valued at $100,000.

“It’s a very heavy tax for services that should be provided by the county and state,” Hofeld said.

In the 2023 letter, officials said property owners in the South Suburbs are already overburdened by taxes. State Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, and 6th District Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller also signed the letter.

The Chronicle attempted to get information on the other two referendum questions.

The township currently has a food assistance center at 15340 Page Ave. in Harvey. Food is distributed Wednesday mornings and afternoons. The Chronicle did not get a response from the Thornton Township pantry director on where a second food pantry would be located.

The township website does not list a soup and salad bar service. The Chronicle requested information on this program, but did not get a response.

This story was first reported in the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle.

Related

Local News Alliance
Local News Alliance
The Lansing Journal is part of a Local News Alliance (LNA) made up of news organizations from Homewood-Flossmoor, Harvey, and Park Forest as well as Lansing. One of the ways Alliance members help each other is by sharing coverage of news whose impact extends beyond our individual communities. We are grateful to our fellow LNA members — the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, the Harvey World Herald, eNews Park Forest, and Southland Investigative Reporting Center — for allowing us to republish this article because of its relevance to Lansing.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Vote “NO”….to giving Supervisor Henyard more hard earned tax dollars to mis-appropriate. There is a wolf in the hen house.

  2. Vote NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tiffany is already being investigated by the feds which should probably take a couple of years ! She is already misappropriated enough funds ! The Township and Dolton ! She has to go !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mental illness is a hot button topic and Henyard is using it to play on emotions to raise money to put in her pocket.
    Township’s soup and salad bar sounds like we would be paying more for her to eat out rather than benefitting anyone in Thornton Township.
    The only way to stop this corruption is to VOTE against the referendum proposals and VOTE Henyard out of office if the FBI can’t do their job.
    If you don’t VOTE you are letting her have her way and the corruption will stay.

  4. As other commenters have stated, resoundingly vote NO to the three proposed tax increases. Henyard and her hooligans have already proven they are not to be trusted with public funds, as evidenced by multiple news reports locally and nationwide.

    To help voters understand why they should vote NO, the three items can be addressed as follows:

    •No township mental health services are needed. Every insurance plan in America covers this under the law. In addition, there are reputable local agencies and non-profits who can provide help to those who are underinsured or uninsured.

    •The township should not open a second food pantry. There is no documentation listed to show a breakdown of how many actual residents are served on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Nor is there transparency pertaining to the costs incurred in running such an operation.

    •No soup and salad bar is needed. If there is one that exists, it sounds more like a soup kitchen for the homeless and should be closed. There are local churches and organizations that already provide this service that is supported through donations.

    Despite what politicians claim about the economy, inflation for goods and services continues to rise, good paying jobs are scarce, and property taxes are already insanely high.

    Her colleague Pritzker is pushing for a state-wide $800 million tax increase. Let’s not burden the Thornton Township residents with higher costs and more wasteful spending. Just VOTE NO. You won’t regret it.

Comments are closed.