Lisle poised to refinance sports complex debt
Lisle is moving ahead with plans to refinance $4.2 million of debt incurred 12 years ago during construction of the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex -- despite calls from some residents to reconsider.
Village trustees are expected to authorize the sale of new bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and eliminate a large balloon payment due in eight years. The debt will continue to be repaid with money generated from the village's hotel-motel tax.
"We're sitting here with an opportunity right now to refinance this debt, lower the debt service and get it to a point where that incremental difference in the hotel-motel tax can continue to service that debt," Trustee Brad Hettich said.
But some residents want Lisle voters to decide whether the village should be allowed to refinance the debt. They collected hundreds of signatures from registered voters to get the issue on the November ballot.
Village officials, however, say the petition drive failed to get the required 1,078 signatures by the May 26 deadline.
This week, some of those residents urged trustees to put the question on the fall ballot anyway.
"I don't think you can disregard the voice of these people that spoke up loud and clear when we turned in those petitions," resident Carolyn Bartelli said.
Despite what Lisle officials say, Bartelli is exploring whether the 895 signatures presented to the village last week were enough to force a referendum.
In the meantime, Mayor Joseph Broda says refinancing the debt is the right thing to do.
"This board remains committed to not use taxpayer dollars other than the hotel-motel tax (to repay the loan)," Broda said.
The original loan dates to 2004, when Lisle and the university worked together to build the sports complex for more than $11 million near the intersection of Yackley/College Road and Maple Avenue. The complex includes a 3,000-seat lighted football and soccer stadium with a nine-lane running track.
"We went into that arrangement with Benedictine University to provide a place for our high schools to have night football," Broda said.
Benedictine paid for part of the complex, including baseball and softball fields.
To cover its share of the project, the village borrowed $6.4 million. It then increased the hotel-motel tax from 3 percent to 5 percent to raise the money needed to repay the loan.
But with the existing bonds set to retire in 2024, village leaders say the hotel-motel tax increase alone hasn't generated enough revenue to cover the balloon payment of more than $2.3 million that's due at the end of the loan.
Lisle officials could have used money from the town's reserves to help repay the debt, but trustees rejected that idea.
If new bonds are issued, the payments would be extended to 2033.
Hettich said refinancing is a better option than using reserve cash.
"We're dealing with an issue that we didn't create but we have to find a resolution for," Hettich said. "I highly suggest that we move forward."
Revenues generated from the sports complex could have gone to pay off the bonds. But the complex hasn't generated a profit to make that happen.