On April 9, the residents of the Collinsville Area Recreational District will have the opportunity to vote "yes" to lower their property taxes. In view of CARD's poor stewardship of previous tax revenues a "yes" vote would reflect the public's collective discontent.
Some opposition may be heard. Terry Wilson, new executive director, has stated projects and programs may need to be cut. Mary Ann Bitzer, past president, has stated that capping revenues will not allow the district to do the projects it wants to do.
It was precisely that attitude that prompted Mark Achenbach to found CARD Watch, a citizens group promoting fiscal responsibility and oversight. At no time in CARD's history has there ever been a serious, concerted effort to determine the actual needs and interests of those in the park district. No data exists to suggest that the people clamored for a golf course; wanted a park that required an expensive bridge to access it; or that residents wanted to walk on a boardwalk in a mosquito-infested swamp.
With a "yes" vote on April 9 nearly assured, it would now be prudent and responsible for the current CARD board to launch a comprehensive effort to actually determine the needs of those in the park district and more importantly what they are willing to support. Meaningful action should then be taken to divest itself of all unwanted projects and properties. This act would help restore public confidence while concurrently paying down the monumental debt CARD has incurred.