DuPage referendum questions: From pot to schools
From a plan to improve schools in one town to proposals to allow recreational marijuana sales in two others, DuPage County voters will weigh in on eight referendum questions during the March 17 primary election.
Here's a look at the questions that will appear on the ballot:
The largest funding request is in Villa Park Elementary District 45, where officials want to borrow $30 million for a master facility plan that includes building a new early childhood center and upgrading existing schools.
Officials say the plan centers on constructing the center and moving all early childhood programming to the building, which is estimated to cost $17.3 million.
"This will increase instructional time and academic performance for our students and lead to operational savings due to consolidation," the district said in a statement. "It will also free up space at our elementary schools to pursue additional improvements."
The district then would make upgrades to its schools and implement a full-day kindergarten program "which will increase academic and social emotional learning for our early learners and provide child care savings for parents."
In addition, District 45 would make safety and security improvements at schools, upgrade technology and create dedicated science labs.
The owner of a $240,000 home pays roughly $2,600 a year in property taxes to the district. If the ballot measure is approved, that amount will increase by roughly $170.
The debate on whether Naperville should allow recreational marijuana sales could be settled by voters.
City council members put an advisory question on the ballot even though they moved to prohibit recreational pot stores in town.
While the referendum is nonbinding, several council members have said they will trust the will of the voters.
If voters don't want recreational cannabis sales, no action will be needed. But if voters say they want such stores, the council would need to reverse its ban and set zoning regulations.
Bloomingdale Township could ask the DuPage County sheriff's office to assign a second deputy to patrol its unincorporated neighborhoods.
But first, an advisory referendum will tell officials if voters support paying higher property taxes to pay for it.
The township has a special police district tax levy to pay for one deputy to be assigned full time. Now officials want a second deputy to help address traffic issues.
While the township has the authority to increase the levy without voter approval, Supervisor Michael Hovde Jr. said "the board felt that the people should vote on the tax increase."
The Winfield Fire Protection District wants a property tax hike to hire more personnel to deal with a growing number of emergency calls.
If approved, the proposal would generate roughly $2.2 million a year in extra revenue for the district that includes nearly all of Winfield, as well as unincorporated sections near West Chicago, Wheaton, Carol Stream and Warrenville.
Fire Chief Steven Evans said the district responds to more than 2,000 calls a year.
Additional revenue would allow the district to hire more firefighters, replace aging vehicles and staff a fire station along Winfield Road, just north of Roosevelt Road. The district has two fire houses, but only one is staffed.
If the increase is approved, the owner of a $318,000 house, who pays $360 a year in property taxes to the district, would see that amount roughly double.
Wood Dale fire
Saying it needs more money to pay for rising costs, Wood Dale Fire Protection District is asking voters for roughly $1.5 million in additional property taxes.
Officials said the decision to pursue the ballot measure came when it was apparent operating expenses will outpace their ability to generate revenue despite budget cuts, using reserve money, getting grants and partnering with neighboring districts.
The owner of a $250,000 home pays roughly $700 in property taxes to the district. If the tax hike is approved, that amount will increase by an estimated $200.
Extra revenue also would allow the district to add staff, replace vehicles, make repairs to one of its two fire stations, and pay for rising administrative costs. The district covers Wood Dale and a small part of Itasca.
The other entities that will have questions on the March ballot are Burr Ridge, Lemont and the Yorkfield Fire Protection District.
Yorkfield Fire, which is a "paper" district that acts solely to collect taxes to pay for fire and ambulance services for parts of Elmhurst and some unincorporated areas, is seeking a tax increase to continue funding its contract with the Elmhurst Fire Department.
Burr Ridge is seeking permission from voters to become a home-rule community. Lemont is asking whether it should allow a recreational marijuana dispensary in town.