Benjamin voters approve tax increase for capital projects
Benjamin Elementary District 25 voters have given the district permission to borrow $4.9 million to pursue a list of capital projects, including upgrading science labs and replacing aging technology.
With all 13 precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial results show the measure passing with 58 percent of the votes.
The district already plans to borrow about $2 million to pay for construction projects this summer. Tuesday's vote now gives the district the go-ahead to issue another $4.9 million in tax-backed bonds for a second phase of work in its two schools that serve students in West Chicago, Carol Stream and Winfield.
Superintendent Phil Ehrhardt said the approval gives the district a unique opportunity to address life-safety, security, educational and building needs.
"I'm very pleased with the outcome and I'm thrilled that both the students and taxpayers won tonight," he said.
Currently, principal and interest payments on the district's existing debt are capped at $582,672 a year.
Tuesday's approval will allow the district to raise that limit to $997,500 a year so the district could pay off the $6.9 million in loans in eight years.
The $4.9 million will fund projects at Evergreen Elementary and Benjamin Middle schools.
The work will include upgrading Benjamin's science labs at a cost of about $951,000, replacing student tablets, replacing or repairing roofs on the two schools for $1.3 million, replacing or repairing windows at a cost of about $367,000, and renovating a gym at Evergreen into a multipurpose room for about $278,400.
Had the measure failed, the owner of a house valued at $250,000 would have seen the district's share of the property tax bills drop by about $220 because existing debt is coming off the district's books. Instead that homeowner will see a decrease of about $73.
Ehrhardt said the goal is to provide a productive learning environment for students.
"But at the same time, we're meeting the needs of our residents and taxpayers," he said.