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updated: 9/28/2011 4:45 AM

Poll says Arlington Hts. voters split on parks tax

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Voters polled split evenly on a $48 million bond issue to improve four of the five major parks in Arlington Heights, pollsters told the Arlington Heights park board on Tuesday night.

Thirty-seven percent of those polled were in favor and the same percentage opposed with 26 percent not sure, according to a report from Public Research Group, which polled 500 Arlington Heights voters by telephone and email. The margin of error is 4 percent, the report said.

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The percentages increased to 45 percent yes and 41 percent no with only 13 percent not sure when the question was changed to support for increasing property taxes by $36 per year for an average home valued at $300,000.

The board agreed to continue a campaign to inform residents that commissioners are considering placing the question on the ballot and why they think the improvements are important. The funds would be used to improve the following parks, including an expanded or new center: Camelot, Frontier, Heritage and Recreation. Pioneer Park got a new center and other improvements recently.

Commissioner Robert Whisler said he has talked with many people, including real estate and mortgage brokers and people at the library and the responses make him oppose putting the question on the ballot.

Whisler said if he had to vote now he would vote against holding a referendum, but he is not against collecting more information and hearing what people have to say.

If the board wants to put the question on the March 17 ballot, the decision will probably be made at the Dec. 13 meeting.

Other commissioners said so much time has been put into the project -- including neighborhood meetings to plan park improvements -- that the district should continue to disseminate information and gather resident feedback.

Only one couple, Janice and Pat Pontrelli, spoke against putting the question on the ballot. Pat Pontrelli said tearing down park centers is not necessary, and the economy is too bad to ask people to pay the extra tax.

When asked if any of the results surprised them, David N. Emanuelson, a principal with Public Research, said the extent of support in the community was surprising. However, he said in a Wisconsin county voters said they preferred spending money on parks and recreation above spending it for sheriff services.

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