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updated: 3/3/2011 5:11 PM

Referendum questions finalized for Lake County ballots

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Ten local government referendum questions with financial ramifications will be scattered on Lake County ballots in November.

In addition, voters in some towns will get to weigh in on an advisory question asking if the governor and state legislators should take meaningful steps to implement public-safety employees' pension reform to reduce the burden on local taxpayers.

Voters can go to the polls Nov. 2 or begin casting early ballots Oct. 11. Marquee races, such as governor and U.S. senator, will be on the ballots along with the referendum questions.

Thursday was the last day a referendum question could be officially certified for the November general election. Following are some of the major ballot questions involving money from the 10 that'll go to voters across Lake County:

•Lake Zurich village government wants approval for a half-percentage-point sales tax increase to help fund capital improvement projects or provide property tax relief.

Mayor Suzanne Branding said she hopes voters look at the big picture of what the additional sales tax would mean to the village. She said she realizes some will automatically vote "no."

"I think the biggest difficulty is the economy," Branding said. "As we all know, this economy has affected everybody."

Lake Zurich adopted a 2.5 percent tax on gas and electricity in April, but officials said it is not enough to generate the necessary funds for capital projects and is set to expire in 2012. The utility tax should produce about $500,000 annually.

• Gurnee Elementary District 56 wants to borrow about $28.5 million primarily to construct a new school in Wadsworth. Under the plan, District 56 would leave flood-prone Gurnee Grade School near the Des Plaines River.

Property taxes would stay relatively flat if the measure passes because about $15 million in debt would be retired by 2015. The money used to repay that loan would be shifted to retiring new debt, officials said.

Rejection of the borrowing question would mean an owner of a $300,000 market value home would pay a slightly higher $525 to the bond-and-interest fund in 2011, but find an eventual decline to $207 in 2016, according to District 56.

Superintendent John Hutton said the ballot request deserves support because of problems that have developed from years of flooding at Gurnee Grade School. He said there are concerns about mold and bacteria infesting the structure.

"This is not acceptable for the children or staff who inhabit this building and requires our immediate attention," he said.

•Wauconda village government is asking for permission to shift annual fire protection district payments to individual property tax bills.

Village voters also will be asked to approve annexation of the Wauconda Fire Protection District as part of the financial shift. An owner of a $200,000 market value home would pay an extra $269 in the first year. Officials said they plan to slice the utility tax in half, saving a typical family $110 per year.

• Millburn Elementary District 24 in the Lindenhurst area wants a tax-rate increase in an effort to raise at least an extra $1.1 million next year to offset what officials say is a state funding shortfall.

An owner of a $300,000 market value home would pay roughly an additional $730 to District 24 if the measure passes.

Elsewhere in Lake County, the Lake Bluff Park District wants to borrow $10.7 million to construct a community pool and make improvements in various facets of the system. The village of Wheeling wants a 75-cent increase in the monthly 911 emergency telephone system surcharge.

Grayslake, Round Lake Beach and Island Lake will be among 10 Lake County towns with the advisory question on pensions.