U-46, Sugar Grove Library requests are approved, but Kane County voters reject other ballot measures
Elgin Area Unit District 46 can proceed with a plan to replace five elementary schools. And the Sugar Grove Public Library got a long-sought "yes" to increase taxes to run the library.
But almost all the other propositions on the Kane County ballot failed on Tuesday.
Results are unofficial because vote-by-mail ballots can be counted through April 18.
Voters have given Elgin Area Unit District 46 permission to borrow $179 million to rebuild aging schools.
The ballot measure from the state's second-largest school district received 10,523 "yes" votes and 6,346 "no" votes, according to unofficial counts from Kane, DuPage and Cook counties.
U-46 plans to replace Lowrie and McKinley schools in Elgin, both of which were built in the 1800s. It also proposes rebuilding Century Oaks in Elgin, Parkwood in Hanover Park and Glenbrook in Streamwood. They were built in the 1970s.
The overall construction program is estimated to cost $300 million, but the district says it will use money it has in reserve to cover the rest of the cost. Because the district is replacing old debt with new debt, the new loan will not result in a property tax increase, officials said.
"This was a unique opportunity," said U-46 Chief of Staff Brian Lindholm, adding that the ability to present a bond request without a tax rate increase likely contributed to voter support.
In addition to new buildings, the building program will help the district move to a full middle school model after a planned conversion of Hawk Hollow Elementary School into a middle school is complete. Currently, sixth-grade students attend elementary schools. The district plans to move sixth-grade students to middle schools within the next two years.
While the main focus is on replacing five elementary schools, the district plans to earmark an additional $10 million per year over the next 10 years to make improvements to the district's other schools. In all, U-46 has 57 buildings.
Sugar Grove Public Library
The 15th time was the charm for the Sugar Grove Public Library, which has been trying to increase its operating tax rate limit since 1981. Voters agreed this year, 1,796 votes to 861.
Voters let the library district build a new library in 2008, but since then, the library has cut hours, staffing and more to stay within its budget.
People won't see immediate changes because the library won't get the money until next June. But just knowing it is coming thrills the library director, Genna Mickey.
"I kind of feel like 'Yay! This is in the nick of time,'" Mickey said. "It could not come at a better time."
Besides increasing the staff, the hours the library is open, and the programming and materials, the library will be doing deferred repairs and maintenance and setting aside money for long-term building work.
"Every day, another thing happens," Mickey said. On Wednesday, one of the boilers leaked into the staff workroom.
She believes the request was approved this time because the library timed it so the operations increase will come when the debt payments will end. "We just waited until it was affordable," Mickey said.
Voters refused, again, to let the Batavia Unit District 101 borrow $140 million to replace two elementary schools and do other work. The vote was 3,966 to 3,271. It was the same proposal voters turned down in November.
Residents of Central Unit District 301 denied a $195 million request for a new high school and repairs and renovations, 1,677 to 1,409.
The plan called for a building on Rohrsen Road that could hold 2,400 students; the current Central High has a capacity of 1,400, and 1,349 are enrolled this year. The district said it expected enrollment to keep increasing as new houses are built.
Kaneland Unit District 302 voters rejected a request for $57.5 million in work to Kaneland High School in Maple Park, 2,730 votes to 1,940. It wanted to build a new sports stadium with an artificial turf field and an expanded track, as well as renovations.
"We have heard you, and we will be re-engaging with you in the near future to gather feedback on the results of this referendum," Superintendent Todd Leden said. "We will continue to work together and support each other to deliver the highest quality education to our students despite the challenges we face."
"We're formulating Plan B," Elburn Village President Jeff Walter said Wednesday, after voters denied a request to borrow $9.9 million to build a new police station, 787 votes to 483. He said officials are analyzing referendum results to try to figure out why the request was rejected -- including whether, perhaps, voters didn't care for the location of the proposed station. Walter said, however, that the village could not cut back on the building plans any more than it already has.
Hampshire Township Park District residents voted 1,152 to 491 against increasing operating taxes. Officials wanted to use the money to build a community center, including an indoor artificial turf field, an indoor track, a gymnasium, a fitness center and multipurpose rooms.