Voters back tax hikes with tangible results
Majority in Kildeer, Libertyville OK hikes for road repairs
Despite a tender economy, a healthy majority of voters in Libertyville and Kildeer felt paying more out of pocket would be worth the investment in terms of better roads.
And though nearly an even split, voters in Fox Lake Elementary District 114 decided to forego an action that would have saved them $166 in property taxes.
Those involved with all three questions on Tuesday's ballot say the approvals showed more voters than not thought they were getting their money's worth.
Drivers in Libertyville and Kildeer will see the most tangible results, as proceeds from property tax and sales tax hikes, respectively, will be used for road repairs and improvements beginning with the 2013 construction season.
"I'd like to think we did a good job of educating the public about what was needed and what would be done. People understand," Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said.
Sixty percent of voters approved a property tax increase of about $34 a year for four years to a total of $136 per year thereafter. The proceeds will allow the village to borrow $20 million to repair 30 miles -- about a third of its streets -- in the next several years.
Information provided to residents ahead of the vote showed Libertyville with among the lowest village tax rates in the area and outlined other steps that had been taken to curb costs.
"We showed residents we were responsible with the property tax dollars," Weppler said. "That helped."
The village immediately will begin refining the repair list. Water and sewer work associated with the road repairs will cost another $7 million to $8 million. Whether that will be funded through a separate bond issue or an increase in rates is to be determined.
In Kildeer, 57 percent of voters agreed to allow the village to raise its portion of the sales tax to 1.5 percent from 1 percent to generate an estimated $500,000 a year in extra revenue for roads and associated work, such as right of way maintenance.
Village Administrator Michael Talbett said the amount spent on road repairs each year has dropped from $700,000 to $150,000.
The village met with homeowner associations and provided information to all residents regarding plans for the funds.
"That seemed to be favorably received and explained to people what was going on," he said.
Because there would be a tangible result that out-of-towners who shop in Kildeer also will be paying helped sell the question, he added.
"Maintaining your roads is important to the overall perception of the community," and that translates to home values, Talbett said.
The support was much closer in District 114, where the vote was 611 to 608 to extend a previously approved tax to allow class sizes and programs to continue operating normally. A "no" vote would have resulted in a $166 annual savings for the owner of a $200,000 home.
"We are very aware of the economic conditions that exist in the world and that people are having a tough time," said Superintendent John Donnellan. "So their support on this referendum shows us that we are heading in the right direction and being as fiscally conservative as we can."
He added District 114 ranks as the 25th lowest elementary school tax rate in Lake County, yet its test scores are above average.
Did the three approvals buck a trend?
The Taxpayer's Federation of Illinois deals with tax policy and does not get into individual referendum questions. But legislative director Scott Selinger said, in general, continued economic uncertainty and voter displeasure with government spending policies make such questions a tough sell.
"You better have a good sales pitch," he said.
Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America on Wednesday said the organized opposition of members and supporters helped defeat home rule questions in six suburbs and a school district property tax increase request.
"No one called us to ask for help," the group's president, Jim Tobin, said of the Libertyville or Kildeer ballot questions.
Daily Herald Staff Writer Lee Filas contributed to this report.