Paulus Park Barn, fire station projects on hold after voters nix Lake Zurich sales tax hike
Lake Zurich residents overwhelmingly voted against increasing the local sales tax by 0.5% Tuesday, leaving village officials exploring other options for financing Paulus Park Barn renovations, Fire Station No. 1 upgrades and other projects.
With day-of, early and most of the vote-by-mail ballots counted, 5,173 voters, or 65.8%, voted no and 2,692, or 34.2%, voted yes, according to unofficial tallies Wednesday.
In a message to residents Wednesday morning, Mayor Tom Poynton said the voters have spoken.
"This was a terrific exercise in community participation with over 7,800 individuals casting votes in this election," Poynton said. "The board voted to put this on the ballot for you, the citizens, to decide."
The village solicited feedback from residents for much of the year about improvements they would like to see at the barn, which was gutted by fire last year. The preferred option would add a large multipurpose room with partitions, as well as more restrooms and an exterior patio.
Village Manager Ray Keller said Wednesday because the tax increase would have funded improvements at Paulus Park Barn and Fire Station No. 1, those projects are off the table for now.
Keller said there was a grant pending with the state that could fund work at the barn, but he called it a longshot.
"We will continue to make due and see what funding opportunities come up down the road," Keller said of both projects. "We will continue to offer services to residents and take it day by day and month by month, particularly in the current circumstances."
Poynton said in his message to residents that repair activities could begin at the barn soon. He said that work would be funded by the village's insurance company.
Vote totals updated Wednesday by the Lake County clerk's office included some but not all mail-in ballots. State election officials Wednesday said 59,125 of the 170,239 mail-in ballots requested in Lake County were outstanding, but it isn't likely that enough of those uncounted ballots came from Lake Zurich voters to make up the large difference.