Governor signs measure to keep DuPage referendums valid

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation to erase a technical error that jeopardized four property tax increases approved in November by DuPage County voters.

State lawmakers proposed the measure after learning the referendum proposals approved Nov. 8 for Bloomingdale Park District, Helen M. Plum Memorial Public Library in Lombard, Hinsdale Elementary District 181 and Salt Creek Elementary District 48 in Villa Park and Elmhurst were advertised three days too early in some suburban newspapers.

Illinois law requires notices of referendum questions be published no more than 30 days and not less than 10 days before an election.

However, some local newspapers published notifications about the four ballot questions 33 days before the election because of a clerical error by the DuPage County Election Commission.

As part of the legislation, which Rauner signed Friday, the state election code has been amended to make notice of a ballot question valid "if given more than 30 days but not more than 35 days prior to" the Nov. 8, 2016, election.

The measure was approved last month by both the Illinois House and Senate before being sent to the governor's desk.

State lawmakers who supported the legislation said the four referendum proposals were approved by wide margins during an election with high voter turnout.

Still, the notification error left officials in the affected agencies uncertain of how to proceed with a variety of projects - or even if they could.

District 181, for example, is facing a lawsuit challenging the results of the election because of the notification problem.

Voters gave the district permission to borrow $53 million to build a new middle school. But according to the lawsuit, the referendum is invalid because of the improper notice.

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