Several governmental bodies in DuPage go for tax hikes in November

Experts used to tell taxing districts that the best time to ask voters for more money is when there are fewer of them at the polls.

Times have changed.

Six government bodies in DuPage County have opted to pursue tax increases during the November general election, even though voter turnout in DuPage is expected to be at least 75 percent.

One of them is the Bloomingdale Park District, which is seeking permission to borrow $9.9 million to repair and improve three facilities.

"We felt that now is the right time," said Buzz Puccio, president of the park board.

District officials have long wanted to repair and improve the Springfield Park ball fields and wetlands, Oasis Water Park and the Johnston Recreation Center.

But they held off on pursuing a property tax hike because of the economy.

Now they believe the high number of voters expected to turn out on Nov. 8 could help the measure pass.

"We didn't do this in a vacuum," Puccio said of the referendum request. "We held community discussions. We sent out surveys. People have gotten back to us and said they're happy with what we have. They would just like it maintained better and modernized."

If approved, the park district's share of the property tax bill would increase by roughly $66 a year for the owner of a home worth $246,500, the median value of a Bloomingdale house.

The money the park district would borrow would be repaid over 20 years.

Other taxing districts planning to ask voters to dig deeper into their pocketbooks are Burr Ridge, Villa Park, Helen M. Plum Memorial Public Library in Lombard, Salt Creek Elementary District 48 and Hinsdale Elementary District 181.

District 181 wants to borrow $53 million to build a new school. District 48 wants to borrow $8 million to repair three of them - Salt Creek Primary in Elmhurst, Stella May Swartz in Oakbrook Terrace and Albright Middle School in Villa Park.

Burr Ridge is seeking a property tax increase for street improvements.

If voters approve a property tax rate increase for Helen Plum library, it will replace its existing building.

Villa Park would like to increase its sales tax rate to 8 percent from 7.5 percent. If approved, the increase would generate roughly $1.5 million a year in extra revenue for the village, which plans to use the money for infrastructure work.

In addition to those ballot questions, voters will be asked if they support a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would prevent Illinois from using transportation-related funding for other purposes.

Voters also will be asked to weigh in on 15 nonbinding advisory questions throughout the county.

In Glendale Heights, for example, an advisory question will ask if taxing bodies should be required to seek voter approval before increasing their annual total property tax levy.

Another nonbinding question will ask Warrenville voters if the former Musselman Lumber site along Manning Avenue should become a park.

Because there are so many referendum questions, DuPage County Election Commission officials say it's going to be "a challenge" to keep ballots throughout the county to a single page.

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