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Keeping up energy key to Kendall tax protest

Event organizer Mark Johnstalks taxes during property tax revolt rally Friday June 1 2012 Yorkville's Town Square. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times

Event organizer Mark Johnson talks taxes during a property tax revolt rally on Friday, June 1, 2012 at Yorkville's Town Square. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 1, 2013 6:11AM

YORKVILLE — High property taxes in Kendall County, coupled with the continued down economy of 2012, prompted some to say “enough.”

A true tax protest fomented in Kendall throughout the year, beginning with rallies in Yorkville and Oswego, and culminating in overwhelming passage of a non-binding referendum in November asking taxing bodies to cut their tax levies by 20 percent.

The anti-tax group started unofficially but grew into an organization led by Yorkville and Oswego area residents such as Judie Burks, Jan Alexander and Greg O’Neil. But the first face of the organization was a Yorkville-area man, Mark Johnson, a longtime watchdog at area governmental meetings.

It was Johnson who organized the first rally in early June in Yorkville’s Town Square Park. Besides it being a rally, Johnson made the event informational, in an attempt to help people better understand the tax cycle.

At a second rally in downtown Oswego in July, Johnson announced the group would try to get a referendum on the November ballot urging taxing bodies to cut their tax levies — the amount of money a governmental agency asks for — by 20 percent. Within a month, the group had collected more than 2,800 signatures for the referendum.

On Nov. 6, the referendum passed with more than 70 percent voting for it.

While some government officials privately referred to it as the “free ice cream referendum” — something nobody would be against — they also showed that they are paying attention to it.

Many governmental agencies lowered their tax levies, although none by 20 percent.

Tax protesters have been showing up at local governmental meetings in Oswego and Yorkville, including Kendall County, to keep an eye on things, and even comment on some options involving salaries and staff levels of governmental bodies.

But as 2012 wound down, Johnson admitted he was losing some of the energy he had at the beginning of the organization’s formation. He has been calling for others to pick up the cudgels and help keep the momentum going.

He recently said the organization will report in January about what happened with local tax levies during 2012.

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