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posted: 2/10/2013 8:00 AM

Tax increase questions on several DuPage ballots

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  • A proposal to replace the Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Wheaton is among a list of questions that will appear on ballots throughout DuPage County.

      A proposal to replace the Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Wheaton is among a list of questions that will appear on ballots throughout DuPage County.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer


Voters in several DuPage County communities will weigh in this spring on an array of ballot questions from governmental entities, including five that are seeking more tax money.

The DuPage Election Commission has released the questions that will appear on the April 9 ballots.

According to the commission's list, property tax hike requests are in store for voters in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, Lake Park High School District 108, Itasca Elementary District 10 and Butler Elementary District 53.

District 200 is seeking voter approval to raise $17.6 million to construct a facility to replace Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Wheaton. The proposal would cost of the owner of a $300,000 home an additional $30 a year in property taxes for 10 years, and then a significantly larger amount in the 11th year.

District officials say Jefferson is aging, outdated and no longer appropriate to serve youngsters ages 3 to 5, many of whom have disabilities.

District 10 is asking voters to increase taxes to fill a budget shortfall that officials say resulted from several factors, including decreased state and federal funding.

"We are spending more than our revenue that is coming in," Superintendent Marcia Tornatore said. The district has had to dip into its reserve cash to pay for expenses.

If voters decide to give the school district $1 million annually in extra taxes, the owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $240 more a year in property taxes, officials said.

Meanwhile, voters must approve multiple ballot questions in order for District 108 and District 53 to achieve their construction goals.

District 108 officials say two ballot questions related to a proposed swimming pool at Lake Park High School's East Campus must be approved for the project to go forward.

The first question will request authorization for the district to borrow $8 million to build the pool at the Roselle school. The second will seek increased taxes to cover the estimated $380,000 needed annually to maintain the pool.

In Oak Brook, getting voter approval to borrow $15 million is just one part of District 53's plan to build a proposed $40 million K-8 facility at the village-owned Sports Core.

Voters also must give the village permission to sell Sports Core land to the district before the new school could be built on 8.5 acres near Oak Brook Public Library.

"Both (ballot questions) would have to pass to build a new school at the Sports Core," said Superintendent Sandra Martin, adding there are no other viable sites in Oak Brook to build a K-8 campus.

If built, the facility would replace Brook Forest Elementary and Butler Junior High, schools that are outdated and expensive to maintain. The project would cost the owner of a $1 million home about $374 a year in additional property taxes, officials estimate.

Schools district aren't the only ones trying to raise more revenue.

Winfield is seeking permission from voters to add a quarter-cent local sales tax to other sales taxes already in place. If approved, the total sales tax paid in Winfield would jump from 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent.

The proposed sales tax hike wouldn't apply to food or drug sales. It would generate about $75,000 a year in additional revenue for the cash-strapped village.

Other ballot questions in DuPage could end up saving residents money.

Villa Park, Bartlett, Willowbrook and Downers Grove Township are asking voters to weigh in on whether the governmental entities should be allowed to arrange for the supply of electricity for residential and small commercial retail customers who haven't opted out of a such a program.

In Naperville, voters will be asked if they prefer having an at-large or a ward-based system for electing city council members.

The city is planning a 2015 transition to a district system because of a 2010 ballot question pushed by the Naperville Voter Education League. But another group, dubbed "Yes At Large," wants voters to reconsider the issue.

So a question on the ballot will ask: "Shall the city of Naperville elect city council at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part of the councilmen from districts?"

Finally, Addison Township has a pair of advisory questions for its voters.

The first will ask voters if state lawmakers should shift Illinois' share of pension costs for local schools to property taxpayers.

Another question will ask if the township should continue providing transportation services for seniors citizens and persons with disabilities. But because the question isn't binding, the program will continue regardless of the outcome at the polls.

"They (township officials) just want to see what kind of interest there is out there for this transportation," said Richard Kaske, the township highway commissioner. "We're still going to do it."

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