Lake Villa Elementary District funding proposals defeated
Plans to raise $50 million over 20 years for facility improvements in Lake Villa Elementary District 41 were soundly defeated by voters Tuesday.
Unofficial vote tallies show voters overwhelmingly rejected a school board proposal to borrow $34.2 million to build additions, make safety improvements and improve accessibility for people with disabilities among other changes. About 73 percent voted "no" to that proposal, which lost by 2,078 votes to 756. Almost 76 percent of voters nixed a second proposal that would have authorized the board to raise an additional $790,000 annually to offset maintenance costs.
The results make clear what the public wanted, said Lake County Board member Dick Barr, who opposed the ballot measures.
"They wanted the district to prepare a long-term, comprehensive plan before asking for more taxes," said Barr. "And they did not want $4.4 million spent on Pleviak Elementary School which no longer serves District 41 students."
Owned by District 41, Pleviak School has been leased to Round Lake Area Unit District 116 since 2014.
Barr says voters want the lease ended and the building sold for commercial development in downtown Lake Villa.
"Almost everybody agreed that our buildings need work," he said. "This proposal spent too much money in areas the public did not accept."
With both measures defeated, property-tax payments to the district will drop significantly in 2020 because loans that funded the construction of two of the district's schools will be paid off this year. The defeat of both plans means the owner of a $250,000 house would pay about $748 less in property taxes to the district the first year according to a District 41 official.
Even if the proposals had been approved, taxes to the district still would have decreased, but by a smaller amount.
In an email, Dr. Lynette Zimmer, District 41 Superintendent, expressed disappointment that both proposals failed, while positing that "our schools will continue to deteriorate and our taxes will continue to increase."
"We hope that we can work together with our district and community to collaborate on a new referendum that fulfills the wishes of everyone in Lake Villa 41," Zimmer wrote, adding "my hope is that we can determine a solution in the near future."
Barr agreed that opponents and proponents of the measures must work together to craft a plan that "makes sense for the whole district."
"We're not opposed to a referendum," he said. "We're just opposed to this referendum."
District 41 serves parts or all of Lake Villa, Round Lake Heights, Lindenhurst and Round Lake Beach, as well as nearby unincorporated areas.
Absentee ballots have not been counted, and all results are unofficial.