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updated: 3/17/2011 5:52 PM

Kane County Forest Preserve District referendum

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

Sometimes, even in an economy struggling to regain its footing, the time to buy is now.

The Kane County Forest Preserve District is asking voters to approve a $30 million tax increase for the purpose of acquiring up to 2,000 acres, which would enlarge the district's footprint to more than 20,000 acres.

In the three referendums since 1999 -- which have asked for $70 million, $75 million and $85 million, respectively -- each tax increase met with voter approval. This tax increase is the least costly, by better than a 2 to 1 margin. The cost to a homeowner with a $268,000 home will be about $1.10 a month for 20 years; for a $300,000 home, about $1.23 per month.

According to district officials, there are many willing sellers. Land that once was on the market for $100,000 an acre, can now be had for prices in the teens.

The district has the bonding authority to borrow up to $10 million for land acquisition without asking permission, but wisely chooses to involve the public. The district's track record is steeped in community meetings to get the people's input whenever pursing land acquisition.

The district has a AA bond rating from Standard & Poor's with no financial management weaknesses. It doesn't waste money needlessly.

This once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire open space at amazingly affordable prices is one that should not be missed. We recommend a YES vote on the tax increase.