Lawsuit: Kane clerk's ballot error mandates do-over on failed fire district tax hike

Citing incomplete information on the March 20 ballot, a group of residents wants a judge to void the results from the Fox River and Countryside tax increase that was rejected by 32 votes.

The lawsuit argues the Kane County Clerk was told the tax increase question was missing information about what it would cost homeowners each year - and failed to correct it.

If a Kane County judge agrees, the March 20 results will be erased and the question will be put on the Nov. 6 ballot for a second try.

"Most people, when they see a question like that, (ask), 'How much are my taxes going to go up?' That's what was cut off (the ballot)," fire board President Bob Handley said last month. "I think we've got a pretty good case to get it overturned."

According to the lawsuit, one of the plaintiffs, Ken Shepro, voted early on March 9 and realized his ballot did not have the second half of information about the fire district proposed tax hike, stating it would cost $53 more a year in property taxes for every $100,000 of a home's value.

Shepro immediately notified the county clerk, who drew up a plan to have election judges give people voting on the Fox River and Countryside referendum question a notecard detailing the cost, according to the suit.

Three plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue they cast early votes on March 14 and did not receive a note card as promised by the clerk. Two additional plaintiffs argue in the lawsuit they voted on March 20 and never received a card.

"A substantial number of voters casting ballots on the referendum question on Election Day itself and during the remaining period of early voting were never shown or given any card, exhibit or writing by the judges of the election in the polling place containing the full text of the district's referendum question," read part of the lawsuit. "Approximately 367 voters cast 'early' votes prior to March 9 on the referendum question prior to the discovery of the omission and prior to the attempted remediation by the County Clerk."

Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham, who is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.

If a judge sides with the residents, the March 20 result will be erased and voters will have another crack at it on Nov. 6.

Since the tax increase plan was defeated, the fire district board has voted to cut three, part-time firefighters and will keep both fire stations open - for now. Cutting up to nine firefighter positions and rotating closing one of its two stations every day also is an option.

The lawsuit was filed late Thursday in Kane County, but no next court date was available Monday from at the Kane County Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hartwell's office.

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