Long Grove residents will have an opportunity March 18 to decide whether a more rigorous road maintenance program is worth paying for after some neighborhood streets have been privatized.
With Village President Angie Underwood's tiebreaking vote, trustees Tuesday narrowly put a referendum on the March primary ballot seeking revenue for up to 10 years to make up an annual $1.7 million shortfall for roads.
Comments made during the meeting made it clear that trustees disagreed among themselves as much as residents did over what the real issue was.
Some were against a property tax altogether, while others were specifically against the proposal to privatize some non-thoroughfare streets and thus redistribute the burden of road maintenance.
Trustee Stanley Borys said such an issue has never divided the village before because residents to date have bought their homes knowing exactly what their contributions toward private roads in their subdivisions will be.
Trustee George Yaeger added his voice to that of the referendum opposition group, Long Grove United, in saying he didn't believe voters would approve any tax hike anyway.
Resident Marcia Marshall spoke for Long Grove United.
"The referendum will fail," Marshall said. "And we will have wasted time and effort on a measure destined to fail."
Yet some other trustees and residents spoke in defense of a property tax as an equitable and reliable funding source.
Trustee Joseph Barry said it was a miracle Long Grove had survived nearly 60 years without a property tax.
"I was wondering when this day would come," Barry said. "We've been kicking the can down the road for many years."
Long Grove currently has 150,000 feet of public roads. The proposal discussed Tuesday was whether to turn 68,000 feet over to private subdivisions.
If voters approve the request, the village would set a tax rate of 0.068 per $100 of equalized assessed value, which would cost the owner of a $750,000 home $166 per year.
Vote: Long Grove has gone nearly 60 years without property tax