Tax increase requests abound on Tri-Cities ballots
Depending on where they live and how they vote Tuesday, Tri-Cities residents face a slew of potential tax increases addressing funding for projects ranging from recreation centers to roads. Here is a brief look at what the taxing bodies want and why.
St. Charles Park District
Park commissioners were inspired to seek a $28 million tax increase after user and resident surveys indicated a desire for a family recreation center and more open space. About $23 million of the tax increase will fund the new 81,800-square-foot rec center. It will include a fitness center and more courts for basketball, volleyball and pickle ball. It will also have an indoor track and space for special needs recreation programming.
The remainder of the cash will fund the creation of new turf fields and the future purchase of open space.
If approved, the owners of a $300,000 home will pay about $92 more to the park district on their annual property tax bills.
West Aurora District 129
Voters are being asked for permission to borrow $84.2 million for building work.
The school board has said that with the money, it will build a replacement Hill Elementary School, which is 127 years old.
Also on the list are installing geothermal heating and cooling systems at nine schools -- Freeman, Goodwin, Hall, McCleery, Nicholson and Schneider elementary schools; Jefferson and Washington middle schools; and at West Aurora High School.
The district is also considering installing air conditioning at Todd Early Learning Center; adding classrooms at Fearn Elementary School and Jefferson, Nicholson, McCleery and Freeman; adding a field house, a multipurpose space and a corridor connection, and renovating locker rooms at West Aurora; building a combination early-childhood/education center and administrative building; putting a canopy over the student drop-off area at Hope Wall School; and building tornado safety zones at Herget Middle School and Greenman Elementary.
The district would repay the loan over 20 years. District officials say that by restructuring current debt, paying it down, and spreading out the borrowing, it can keep the district's debt payment relatively level through 2038. Currently taxpayers pay about $14 million a year for debt; those payments are expected to stay in the $12 million to $14 million range through 2022, then drop to $2 million to $4 million a year, then end in 2027. The owner of a house with a market value of $200,000 pays about $695 a year toward that debt now.
Residents will choose whether to spend more on repairing and repaving township roads.
It is the fourth time in 12 years they have been asked. They have always voted "no."
They are being asked to raise the limit on the tax rate for the township road district by 14 cents, to 32.5 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. If it is approved and the district levies the maximum, it would collect an additional $93.34 on a property assessed at $200,000.
According to engineers the district hired to study the 56 miles of roads, nearly 33 percent are in "poor" condition, and 31 percent are "fair." Highway Commissioner Rodney Feece has said he has about $150,000 to spend a year on road maintenance, and that is enough to repave about one mile.
Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District
District trustees want permission for a tax increase, which they've pledged to diffuse over five years, that will provide money to attract and pay better quality staff, improve response times with additional stations and upgrade equipment.
This is the first time since the district broke off a longtime service contract with St. Charles in 2011 and hired a private firm that it is seeking a voter-approved tax increase. Under the proposal, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay the district $48 more through the annual property tax bill. That $48 increase won't hit all at once. Instead, each year for the next five years the bill will increase between $8 and $12.
Burlington Community Fire Protection District
The district, which serves Kane and DeKalb counties, is seeking voter approval to levy a new tax at 0.145 percent of the equalized assessed value of taxable property for tort liability purposes.
If approved, the district will collect $701,614 under the new rate -- an increase from $593,959.
The owner of a $200,000 home would pay roughly $96 more in property taxes in 2016.
• Daily Herald staff writers Susan Sarkauskas and Madhu Krishnamurthy contributed to this story.