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posted: 5/25/2012 8:00 PM

Island Lake leans toward leasing a new village hall

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By Jennifer Earl
jearl@dailyherald.com

Island Lake village officials, continuing to weigh options for getting a new building to house municipal offices, are now leaning toward a lease arrangement with a nearby consulting group.

Board members believe a rental agreement, requiring no loan that would have to be paid off with tax money, will help avoid the kind of disagreements the board faced three years ago with reconstruction plans that required a $10 to $12 million bond issue.

Mayor Debbie Herrmann said the board is just looking to find the best financial option, which may be to let someone else finance the construction.

"I wanted to ... see if we can't build a more practical building that is functional and can serve us for less money," she said. "We're going to continue to gather information and I think the opportunity is there for us."

Some residents at Thursday's meeting don't think leasing is in the best interest of taxpayers.

Dave Labuz, 50, said bonds sold at municipal rates, which are lower than for commercial properties, are cheaper than what the village would pay for a lease-back on a ready-made facility. Labuz believes it would be more beneficial for the village to own the property.

"I can see if you're a commercial entity having somebody build something, but this is our government," he said.

Herrmann toured Spring Grove last week to compare that village hall to Island Lake's. Spring Grove also has a similarly small population, and it has a building that combines village offices with the police and public works departments, which Island Lake also plans to do. Officials plan to use Spring Grove's facility as a model for the construction of their new facility.

The Spring Grove assessment, plus information from a UIC urban development graduate class, will be brought to a meeting with BKB Advisors, the business management consulting group that is interested in building and owning the village hall.

Trustee Connie Mascillino said remaining at the current, half-century-old village hall at 3720 Greenleaf Ave. is not an option.

A building inspector who looked at the village hall said the cost of repairs within two to five years could reach $816,000 -- including a new roof, replacing 35 windows, a new air conditioning system, rewiring, plumbing on eight bathrooms, and repairing doors and hardware.

"It's not a question of do we need to replace this building," Mascillino said. "It's almost like ... we have to."

Once more information is gathered, officials will finalize their options at another village board meeting.

"Nothing is set in stone at this point, but unless we gather information we really have nothing to plan our path," said Herrmann.

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