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of Kane Open Space Referendum
January 6, 2017
Preserve District OKs resolution for $50m referendum on ballot
Preserve District of Kane County's Executive Committee approved a
resolution to place a $50 million Open Space referendum on the April 4
ballot, with Commissioner T.R. Smith voting against the idea.
"My constituents are telling me they are concerned about the land
being taken off the tax rolls," said Smith, who represents District 9.
"They want to see their taxes go down. They are concerned about the
fact that we just had a referendum, which in their minds was a short
Friday's vote was to pass a resolution to place the referendum on the
ballot. The resolution needs to be approved by the entire Commission.
It will be on the District's Jan. 10 meeting agenda. The $50
million referendum would be used to add Open Space to the District's
holdings as well as to restore and maintain current properties,
officials said. It would not be used to fund operating costs, such as
salaries and retirement benefits, officials said.
A homeowner with a home valued at $250,000 would see a $22 annual
increase on the District's portion of the tax bill, Director of
Finance Ken Stanish said. It would break down to $1.83 per month, he
The District's taxes are going down because it refinanced its debt, he
said. The referendum would not increase taxes, but if passed, it would
mean slightly less of a savings for homeowners, Stanish said.
Commissioner Mark Davoust encouraged the Executive Committee to vote
yes on the resolution so voters can decide the issue.
"You give (voters) the power," Davoust said. "By saying yes, you put
this on the ballot and the public says yes or no. I don't think there
is a better example of Democracy in action."
Commissioner John Hoscheit said he considers himself a conservative
when it comes to taxes, but he is supporting a referendum because it
would help minimize taxes in the long term and views it as an
Over the years, the District's purchases have helped stop the
development of properties that would have meant more homes, schools
and higher taxes, Hoscheit said.
Brook McDonald, president and CEO of the Conservation Foundation,
helped conduct a survey of residents' opinion on a referendum. The
Foundation would market and campaign for the referendum. An Open Space
referendum is the ultimate tax cap, he said.
"If you want to keep your taxes down, investing in Open Space is a way
to keep your taxes from skyrocketing," McDonald said. Preserving Open
Space keeps development and the cost of development, such as new
schools and roads, down he said.
Commissioner Becky Gilliam said the referendum will help the District
purchase land to make its forest preserves and trails more connective
as well as help with restoration efforts.
"I want to remind people we have gotten away from our restoration
efforts," she said. "This referendum provides an opportunity to act
more aggressively on reforestation and restoration of our prairies."
The District's Chairman Mike Kenyon said the referendum is a quality
of life issue. "It's a better place to live" when there is open space,
he said. "Trees make you happier. Clean water makes you happier."