Commissioners of Six Corners taxing body resign
by BRIAN NADIG
A taxing body commission for the Six Corners commercial district could soon have new leadership following the resignation of several members — the timing of which Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) claims is politically motivated.
“This is a last-ditch effort by Ellen Hill and John Arena to try to grab as many votes as possible … and to smear me and my name,” Gardiner said Thursday morning. “It’s a 100 percent political maneuver.”
Gardiner is running against Hill for the 45th Ward democratic committeeperson post, which currently is held by former alderman John Arena, who is supporting Hill as his replacement. Gardiner defeated Arena last year to become the ward’s alderman.
Hill said that Gardiner’s allegations are false and that he is trying to “manipulate” who can serve on a commission which had been doing “award-winning” work. “I didn’t know about the resignations until this morning. … The (committeeperson’s) election is irrelevant in this case,” Hill said. “This smacks back to turning the clock back to old school … backroom deal cronyism.”
The Six Corners Special Service Area Commission, which sets the tax levy, awards about $300,000 annually to the nonprofit Six Corners Association, which serves as the service provider for the commission. Over the years the association has sponsored public art, organized cleanup projects, held festivals, provided snow removal on the sidewalks and offered sidewalk café and security camera rebates to businesses.
Gardiner has expressed concern that not all of the commissioners owned property or a business within the boundaries of the service area and has said that the SSA’s bylaws should include such a requirement.
Gardiner explained that those responsible for setting a tax levy should be among those paying the tax — similar to how elected officials are supposed live in the district which they represent.
“I want to work with the SSA. … I support its funding,” Gardiner said.
There had been reports that Gardiner was considering whether to block the SSA budget for 2020, but at a public hearing and to the apparent surprise of some association members, he testified in favor of the SSA’s budget.
The commission has seven commissioner spots, and four members submitted resignations which were effectively immediately, according to a spokesman for the city Department of Planning and Development.
The terms of the three remaining commissioners have expired, but those three commissioners are allowed to remain on the commission until new appointments are in place, the spokesman said.
Six applications for the commission are pending with the city, Gardiner said. He added that he welcomes anyone to serve on the commission who has “no hidden” agenda and will work in the “bests interests of the community.”
Gardiner has been at odds with some leaders of the association, and three of its board members resigned lasted year. Some members have been critical of Gardiner for his handling of the planned 10-story senior housing complex at 4747 W. Irving Park Road, which Gardiner is now supporting.
The association, which was founded in 2002, plans to release a statement in the next few days regarding its plans and goals for the future of Six Corners, according to an association representative.
The anticipated change in the makeup of the commission is not expected to affect the association’s funding for 2020. Service providers operate on one-year contracts with their respective SSA commission.