East Dundee Trustee Allen Skillicorn has started a one-man crusade against a $3 million police station renovation he says is unnecessary and too expensive.
Skillicorn this week sent an email to Elgin leaders -- Mayor Dave Kaptain, City Manager Sean Stegall and Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda -- requesting a meeting to discuss whether the city could house East Dundee's inmates at a price.
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"I actually haven't heard back, but I assume they have to decide if they have room before they get back to me," Skillicorn said Thursday.
Swoboda said it's too early to say whether Elgin would get involved since the city needs to determine if and how the partnership would work.
"I have to wait if the mayor and city manager give me direction to move forward to have this meeting," Swoboda said.
East Dundee is looking to renovate its cramped police station that would expand into the East Dundee Fire Protection District's existing building that would also be refurbished after the fire district moves into new headquarters on Route 25, just north of Route 72.
The fire station's groundbreaking is scheduled for Tuesday and comes courtesy of a $5.5 million referendum voters approved last fall. The district's new headquarters should be completed by May, Village Administrator Bob Skurla said.
The police department expansion would include room for state-of-the-art jail cells, processing areas and interview rooms. A $2 million renovation of village hall would also take place and Skillicorn opposes that as well.
"We're a small town, we don't need to compete with Naperville or Schaumburg or Hoffman Estates," Skillicorn said.
The board is scheduled to vote Monday on the architectural plans for the station and village hall, as well as its financing. East Dundee proposes taking out a $2.25 million line of credit with U.S. Bank and using money generated from its tax increment finance districts to pay the debt off within five years at 1.85 percent annual interest, Skurla said. TIF funds would also finance the remaining balance of the $5 million project and the village would do it this way to avoid dipping into reserves, Skurla said.
"Right now, interest rates are at an all-time low, construction costs are at an all-time low, our need for a police department is 25 years past due so it makes sense to get it done now," Skurla said.
While Skillicorn doesn't have an issue with the way the project would be financed, he'd rather see it presented to voters in the form of a referendum. He also said the money could be better spent on hiring additional police officers or on economic development -- like planning for the day Walmart leaves the village in 2015.
"I think they're so in love with this gorgeous plan ... but I don't think they've examined a lot of other options and they're not using a lot of common sense," Skillicorn said of the police station expansion.
East Dundee has four prison cells, which is plenty, Police Chief Terry Mee said. Prisoners are generally held overnight until bond call the next morning, he said. In 2008, Mee looked into whether Carpentersville, West Dundee and Kane County would contract with the village to take its prisoners, but they weren't interested, he said.
East Dundee Village President Lael Miller doesn't have a problem with Skillicorn contacting Elgin.
"I don't think he's committed any village resources or signed any contracts," Miller said. "Sounds like he's just doing some research and finding out what would be available and if there's any other ways to cut costs."