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posted: 3/14/2012 6:18 PM

Carol Stream park district lobbying for borrowing legislation

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Carol Stream Park District officials are continuing to lobby for a state law that would allow the district to borrow all of the $37 million for park improvement projects approved by voters in a February 2010 referendum.

Due to declining property values, officials have estimated the district might be able to collect only $29 million. But a change in state law would allow the district to fully borrow all $37 million, if the repayment period is extended beyond the current 25-year limit.

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The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. John Millner of Carol Stream, unanimously passed the Senate's local government committee Feb. 29, and it is expected to be considered by the full Senate March 30.

"We would hate to not be able to fulfill our obligation -- at least the obligation our residents expect us to do," said Brian Sokolowski, the park district board's vice president. "Our voters have spoken and they have asked us to do this for the community."

Residents voted by a 57-43 percent margin to approve the $37 million borrowing plan, which is now funding a variety of parks projects, including a new $18 million recreation center, ballfield upgrades and playground and trail improvements.

Officials say the legislation wouldn't result in a tax increase.

"I think this will be the answer to what we've been working very diligently toward," said park Commissioner Tim Powers, who was in Springfield last month to lobby on the district's behalf. "It will allow us to give residents the biggest bang for the buck, and not raise taxes."

Sokolowski said Millner has gotten bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate. As park district leaders push for passage of the bill in the full Senate, they're also laying the groundwork for a similar effort in the House.

State Rep. Randy Ramey of Carol Stream is expected to sponsor the legislation, but park district officials hope to get a Democratic co-sponsor.

"I think we're on the right path. We just are looking for some more support," Sokolowski said.

Park Executive Director Arnie Biondo said 12 school districts have previously sought similar legislation.

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