On suburban ballots Tuesday: Amendments, tax hikes, school projects and more
Voters on Tuesday will weigh in on more than just who will represent them in Springfield and Washington.
They'll also cast votes on ballot questions both local and statewide. Illinois voters will be asked if they want to amend the state constitution. And, depending on where you live, you might also decide on mental health boards. tax hikes for school improvements or other referendum issues.
Here's a look at the questions on suburban ballots:
Voters in several suburban townships and one county will decide Nov. 8 whether to authorize a tax increase to fund new community boards empaneled to address local mental health needs.
Addison, Lisle, Naperville, Schaumburg, Wheeling, Winfield and Vernon townships and Will County all have community health board referendum questions on the ballot.
Proponents say the panels, known as 708 boards, will help fill gaps in local mental health assistance and provide a dedicated and sustained funding source for community-based agencies that provide those services. Panel members would be appointed by the elected township and county boards, which also would set the tax levy and approve grants.
But opponents say the boards will add a burden to taxpayers already struggling with higher prices, and they argue that funding for mental health services should instead come from existing entities, such as the federal and state governments.
Nicknamed the "Workers Rights Amendment," a statewide referendum to amend Article 1 of the Illinois Constitution asks voters if they support allowing employees "the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively." It also would prevent passage of any law "that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively."
Supporters say it will protect workers, ensure fair wages and benefits, and prevent state government from eroding union rights. Critics warn that the measure would give more power to public sector unions and result in higher property taxes.
Barrington voters will once again get to decide whether the village should have home rule authority.
Home rule would provide greater flexibility in day-to-day operations, village officials say. It also would allow the village to diversify its sources of revenue and rely less on property taxes, supporters say.
Des Plaines voters will decide whether to end term limits for most of the city's elected officials.
The resolution applies to the city clerk's post and all eight aldermen. Regardless of what voters decide Tuesday, the mayor will remain limited to two consecutive terms.
Des Plaines' elected officials have been held to two consecutive terms since voters approved limits in 1998.
Unlike the U.S. president's two-term limit, Des Plaines' limits don't stop a two-term official from running again after a break.
Term limits are rare in the suburbs. Rolling Meadows has limited elected service since the 1990s; Naperville voters approved term limits in 2010.
Fenton High School District 100
Safety upgrades, improved programming and learning spaces, and modernized and expanded classrooms are only the start of the $99 million plan being presented to voters in the Fenton High School District 100 community.
For the last three years, school officials have campaigned to inform Bensenville and Wood Dale residents about the need for Fenton to undergo its first major update since a 1975 referendum.
According to officials, the $99 million equates to an extra $288.90 per year in property taxes for the owner of a home valued at $229,000, which is the average value in District 100. None of the money will fund salaries or benefits.
Flooding issues in the building and throughout the surrounding campus would be alleviated, air flow improved and mechanical systems replaced.
In addition to academics, there would be upgrades for the athletics, music and performing arts programs. The school, built in 1955, would be brought up to ADA compliance standards, and asbestos risks would be mitigated.
Cook County Forest Preserve
The forest preserve district is asking voters to approve a property tax hike that officials say would provide a $43 million boost to its annual budget.
If the proposal is approved, the average homeowner would pay about $20 more in property taxes per year. Currently, about $36 to $48 of an owner's annual property taxes goes to the district.
District leaders say they would use the additional funding to acquire more land, restore some existing sites, pay for maintenance projects at forest preserve facilities, pay down pension costs and expand programming that educates and welcomes visitors to natural areas.
Prospect Heights Park District
Prospect Heights Park District voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve a 25-year tax hike seeking $30 million to revamp Lions Park.
That cost includes replacements for the pool and Gary Morava Recreation Center, the installation of new playground and sports courts, and a doubling of on-site parking.
The project intends to add new tennis, pickleball and basketball courts as well as a new outdoor playground at Lions Park at 110 W. Camp McDonald Road in Prospect Heights. The number of parking spaces would increase from 97 to 200.
Executive Director Christina Ferraro said the median home value within the park district is $284,300. The estimated proportional tax impact for the owner of a home of that value would be $462 annually.
Palatine Township Elementary School District 15
The district is moving forward with a $93 million request on the Nov. 8 ballot.
If the referendum succeeds, the district's plans include upgrading facilities, shifting school boundaries, replacing junior highs with middle schools that educate sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and offering all-day kindergarten.
Under the proposal, which the district calls Moving 15 Forward, voters are being asked to approve a $93 million bond issue to fund half of the $186 million plan. The other half would come from existing district sources.
If approved, the District 15 portion of a property tax bill for a house with an average market value of $300,000 will increase by $146 a year, officials say.
Glen Ellyn Dist. 41
Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 is seeking voter permission to borrow $49 million to build a new school on the Spalding Park property already owned by the district and an early learning center addition to Churchill School, its largest elementary campus.
The proposed K-5 school would be built on vacant land that once housed the former Spalding Elementary School in a neighborhood north of the Great Western Trail.
The new, two-story building would serve as the district's fifth elementary school and would initially enroll just more than 400 students, but no more than 500.
Officials would reconfigure attendance boundaries across the district to lower enrollment in existing elementary buildings and to populate the new school.
The district also wants to build an eight-classroom preschool center addition to Churchill Elementary.
Officials say the referendum projects would allow the district to relieve space constraints, manage class sizes, expand its pre-K program and begin providing all-day kindergarten for all families at each of its elementary schools.
If voters approve the funding request, the owner of a home worth $400,000, the average price, would pay about $276 more a year in property taxes to the district.
Officials estimate the total cost of the work at $67 million. The current school board has pledged to set aside $18 million from the district's existing reserves to fund the rest of the plan.
Batavia Unit District 101
Voters in Batavia Unit District 101 are seeking voters' permission to borrow $140 million. The money would be used to raze and rebuild H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools, plus a variety of repairs and upgrades at the district's six other schools. District officials say they can do this without increasing the bond-and-interest portion of property taxes, because the district's current debt expires in 2025. Although, if the proposition is approved the district could start issuing general-obligation bonds as soon as December, the chief financial officer said it likely would not do so until mid-2023.
Critics have questioned the claim that the bond-and-interest levy will stay the same. They also question why the district is replacing two 44-year-old schools, instead of two schools built in the 1950s.
Antioch Township, prompted by a need for more space for senior activities and services, is seeking a tax hike to raise money for a facility that would benefit all ages, officials say.
Voters will be asked whether the township should borrow $16.5 million by issuing bonds. The proceeds would be used to build a combination township hall, multipurpose senior center and community hub, with space for gatherings and recreational activities.
If approved, the tax increase would amount to about $106 per year for the owner of a home valued at $200,000.
Campton Hills voters are being asked whether the village clerk should be appointed by the village president, rather than elected. The village administrator said, in a Kane County Chronicle article, that it has been difficult getting people to run for the position and stay, and that paid village staff ends up doing a lot of the work of a clerk.