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Oswegoland park board contesting residency of commissioner

Updated: December 22, 2012 6:24AM

The Oswegoland Park Board faces more tumult, and likely more legal fees, in a disagreement over whether Commissioner Len Wass is sitting on the board legally.

In July, Park Board President Bob Mattingly and Commissioner Deb Krase discovered that Wass had declared his home in the Lake Holiday area of Somonauk, in LaSalle County, as his primary residence, rather than his home on Adams Street in downtown Oswego.

According to park district attorneys, that makes Wass ineligible for a seat in the Oswegoland Park District.

Mattingly said that he and Krase found the discrepancy after comments Wass made at a June board meeting that aroused suspicion.

Wass said Tuesday the two were “snooping around tax records.”

“They put the lawyers on it, trying to drum up a case against me to push me off the board, because they don’t like my dedication to reducing taxes for the taxpayers,” Wass said.

Wass said that he named the Somonauk house as his primary residence for tax purposes.

“My senior (homestead) tax exemption is a separate matter,” Wass said. “I vote in Oswego, I’m elected in Oswego, and I live in Oswego.”

Still, Wass said he is justified in taking the exemption on the Somonauk home. His wife is the listed taxpayer on their home near downtown Oswego.

“Well, I live in all of it,” he said. “I’ve had two attorneys representing me saying I’m perfectly legal.”

Wass also said that he remains legally on the board after consulting those attorneys, citing the 2011 case that allowed Rahm Emmanuel to remain on the ballot for the mayoral race in Chicago.

If there’s one point on which all the Oswegoland Park Board’s commissioners can agree, it’s that the argument is a waste of the park district’s dollars.

“They’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money trying to drum up something not legally true,” said Wass.

Mattingly put the cost at about $1,500 for this incident.

Tax levy set lower

On another Oswegoland Park Board issue, the board has voted 4-1 to lower the park district’s levy by 5 percent. Wass cast the dissenting vote.

In a presentation he made to the board at that meeting, he argued for a 20 percent reduction of the levy, to be made possible by not replacing high-level administrators, selling Adams Street property, and raising fees for programs.

He later said the overwhelming support for an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot that asked voters whether all taxing bodies should decrease their levies by 20 percent was “a mandate” from taxpayers.

“They wound up throwing in a bone for the 5 percent decrease, but I consider that disgraceful when they were shown how to reduce it 20 percent with no problem,” said Wass. “I also suggested they could stop hiring the law firm trying to get rid of me.”

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