Northwest suburban ballot questions include requests for school, library upgrades

  • Voters will decide whether to give Barrington Area Unit District 220 permission to borrow $185 million for building projects. The plan, which would raise property taxes, calls for an 800-seat fine-arts center at Barrington High School along with a physical education wellness addition and a "21st-century" library renovation at that building.

      Voters will decide whether to give Barrington Area Unit District 220 permission to borrow $185 million for building projects. The plan, which would raise property taxes, calls for an 800-seat fine-arts center at Barrington High School along with a physical education wellness addition and a "21st-century" library renovation at that building. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer, July 2017

  • Palatine Public Library District voters will be asked to approve a property tax increase that would generate extra annual income for building upgrades and other needs.

      Palatine Public Library District voters will be asked to approve a property tax increase that would generate extra annual income for building upgrades and other needs. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer, December 2018

  • A referendum question seeks permission for the South Barrington Park District to sell the land known as "Area N," a vacant 34-acre site at the southeast corner of Bartlett Road and Route 59.

      A referendum question seeks permission for the South Barrington Park District to sell the land known as "Area N," a vacant 34-acre site at the southeast corner of Bartlett Road and Route 59. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer, October 2018

 
 
This story has been updated to correct the amount of the expected tax hike if voters approve the the River Trails District 26 referendum.

Northwest suburban Cook County voters will decide ballot measures on Election Day to provide funding for school construction and library upgrades, permit a park district to sell 34 acres of vacant land, and shrink the size of a local fire district board, among other items.

Here are the details of local referendums being decided Tuesday throughout the Northwest suburbs.

Barrington schools

Barrington Unit District 220 voters will decide whether the school board should borrow $185 million for security upgrades and other improvements at all district schools.

The plan also calls for a new fine arts center at Barrington High School and a library renovation there, among other projects.

If approved, the owner of a house valued at $500,000 would pay about $97 more in property taxes to the district the first year.

At a recent public forum about the plan, some audience members asked if the district should have instead sought money for a third middle school. People also questioned the salaries of high-level administrators.

River Trails schools

Mount Prospect-based River Trails Elementary District 26 will ask voters to approve a tax increase to centralize kindergarten and preschool learning in one building, while freeing space at two elementary schools in light of growing enrollment.

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The district's plan to borrow $19 million includes renovating the current space and adding two small portions to Park View School, where a total of 15 classroom spaces would become available for early learning. Park View currently houses five preschool classes and the district office, while kindergarten classes are held at the district's two elementary buildings, Indian Grove and Euclid.

By moving kindergarten, there would be more room at the elementary schools to absorb enrollment growth for grades one through five, officials say.

The owner of a $300,000 home would pay an extra $222 in taxes annually for 20 years. If approved, the school buildings would be ready by the fall of 2020.

Palatine library

Residents within the Palatine Public Library District will decide whether to raise taxes to pay for building upgrades at the 25-year-old main library in Palatine, among other needs.

The library wants permission to boost the annual property tax levy 29 percent, from 27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 35 cents. If approved, the owner of a house with a median fair market value of $266,000 would pay about $52 extra in taxes annually to the district.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Officials said the tax hike would generate an additional $5.8 million during the next six years for upgrades to the building, including replacement of a significant portion of a leaky roof, installation of energy-efficient lighting, and the upgrade of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. They said the extra cash generated would be enough for the district's needs until at least 2035.

South Barrington

Only months after being rejected, a South Barrington Park District ballot question for permission to sell a vacant 34-acre lot will go back to voters.

District officials want to sell what's known as "Area N," on the southeast corner of Bartlett Road and Route 59 in South Barrington. They say the parcel, formerly home to Klehm tree nursery, is not ideal for a park.

The district bought the vacant 34 acres, along with a 12-acre site, for $4.3 million as part of 2003 lawsuit settlement involving a developer.

Though the ballot measure was voted down in November, Executive Director Jay Morgan said a better job has been done this time in getting information to potential voters about the referendum.

Wheeling airport

Though the issue may be moot, Wheeling voters will get to officially weigh in on whether Chicago Executive Airport should be expanded.

The advisory referendum question will still appear on the ballot even though airport officials announced March 8 they were dropping any consideration of runway expansion beyond current airport boundaries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That came at the prodding of Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer and Wheeling Village President Pat Horcher, who said no one on either towns' board supported the consideration of expanded boundaries. The two towns co-own the airport.

Airport officials said their master plan update process left an incorrect impression that the airport's plan was to extend its runways.

Elk Grove fire district

The Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District will make yet another attempt to trim the size of its board of trustees from seven members to five.

A ballot question proposing the change failed last fall; similar questions also were voted down in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Supporters say it's difficult to find enough interested, knowledgeable trustees to fill all seven positions on the board, which oversees the one-square-mile fire district in unincorporated areas of Elk Grove Township.

• Daily Herald staff writers Bob Susnjara and Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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