School upgrades, term limits and new fire stations on ballot in Cook, Lake counties
Besides electing members of municipal, school and library boards, voters in some communities will decide April 4 whether to fund hundreds of millions in new buildings, facility improvements, amenities and other ballot measures.
In most cases, voter approval would result in an annual property tax increase. Here's a synopsis of the big-money questions facing voters in next month's election.
Mundelein District 120
Mundelein High School District 120 is asking voters to approve a tax hike to fund $175 million of a proposed $225 million plan to renovate and expand the high school and facilities.
Mundelein High School opened in 1961 and was designed for 1,500 students. However, some features haven't changed to meet the needs of increased enrollment, now at about 2,200, and participation in sports and other activities, school officials say.
Officials say while classrooms have been added over the years, the high school does not have the right space for its current needs.
Priorities include renovating performing arts venues, expanding athletic and recreational facilities, and increasing the cafeteria space and renovating the kitchen -- common areas that have seen little or no improvement since 1961, school officials say.
Besides a new field house and competition gym, the district plans to improve its off-site property to meet a need for more athletic and recreational facilities.
Owners of a home valued at $300,000 would pay an additional $320 in property taxes the first year, $550 the second year and $690 in the third and subsequent years.
Town-hall sessions, including a tour of key areas of the school, a presentation and Q&As, are scheduled for March 8, 16 and 11. Visit d120.org/ for more information.
Prospect Heights District 23
Security upgrades and full-day kindergarten will be on the ballot when Prospect Heights Elementary School District 23 asks voters to approve a tax-rate increase.
Approval would allow the district to issue about $20 million in debt certificates to pay for building and security improvements at its four schools, as well as add $1.2 million in annual operating funds. The cost to District 23 property owners would be about $456 a year for a home with a fair market value of $350,000, officials said.
Among the planned upgrades are the construction of a secure entrance at Eisenhower Elementary School, the replacement of aging and inefficient windows, siding and doors at all schools, and the addition of classrooms to offer full-day kindergarten to all students in the district.
Aptakisic-Tripp District 102
Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 is seeking approval to borrow $49 million for a variety of upgrades and additions, including new classrooms and science labs.
The district has five schools and about 2,590 students from Buffalo Grove, the unincorporated Prairie View area and another unincorporated area near Deerfield.
School officials say it's the first facilities referendum since 1993.
Work would include added security cameras and upgraded fob and phone/communications systems. Long-standing needs including boilers, windows and roofs at all district buildings would be addressed, according to officials.
The loans also would be used to extend the life of existing facilities, to improve energy efficiency and to address overcrowding at Aptakisic Junior High School by adding classrooms, new science labs and a gym/multipurpose space.
The owner of a home valued at $375,000 would pay an additional $468 per year for 20 years. Visit d102.org/build for more information.
Des Plaines term limits
Des Plaines voters have a chance to strengthen term limits for elected officials.
The ballot proposal seeks to limit the mayor, the city's eight aldermen and the city clerk to just two terms in those positions, rather than two consecutive terms. Those officials have been restricted to two consecutive 4-year terms since 1998. They now can run for additional terms after breaks in service and also can run for other municipal offices.
In November, nearly 77% of Des Plaines voters rejected a proposal to remove term limits for the aldermen and clerk. The mayor wouldn't have been affected.
Despite repeatedly opposing the concept of term limits, Mayor Andrew Goczkowski proposed the new question.
The Barrington Park District is asking voters to approve an $18.8 million bond issue to fund a variety of improvements at Langendorf Park.
The projects are needed because facilities are deteriorating and there is increased demand for activities such as pickleball, officials said.
The district would combine the bond issue proceeds with $2.95 million from existing capital funds to replace the pool and bathhouse and a picnic shelter, add six to eight pickleball and four platform tennis courts, both with lights, and a warming hut.
Because bonds sold in 2002 to acquire Citizens Park have been repaid in full, property taxes will drop even if the Langendorf measure passes, according to the park district.
If the measure is approved, the owner of a home valued at $500,000 would pay $35 less per year to the district. If voters say "no," the same homeowner would pay $110 less per year.
Visit the bond referendum tab at barringtonparkdistrict.org/ for more information.
Long Grove Fire
The Long Grove Fire Protection District wants to borrow $16.5 million by issuing bonds to acquire land and build and equip a new fire station. This is the first referendum since voters approved a measure to create a full-time department in 2006, according to Chief Paul Segalla.
The district serves a 14 square-mile area that includes Long Grove, Kildeer, Lincolnshire, Hawthorn Woods, Deer Park, unincorporated Ela, Vernon and Palatine townships, and an area south of Lake-Cook Road east of Route 53 in Cook County.
The current station at 1165 Old McHenry Road in Long Grove was built in 1982 as a volunteer station, Segalla said. Additions have been made, but the department has outgrown the space.
"We would like to relocate the station (to be) more accessible to a road network for us," he said. "We're trying to get in a better position so we can continue to meet our response time goals."
Potential sites around Route 83 and Aptakisic Road are being considered, Segalla said. The current site is about 1¼ acres. A new site would be a minimum of 3 acres, Segalla said.
The new station would have five bays and would include a room for community use. The old building would be closed and sold.
Information will be posted at lgfpd.org/.
Lake Forest District 115
Lake Forest Community High School District 115 hopes to issue $105.7 million in building bonds to repair, renovate and equip existing high schools.
Visit lakeforestschools.org/page/1 for more information.
Elgin Area School District U-46 seeks to borrow $179 million to help cover a building program expected to cost more than $300 million.
The bulk of the proposed work focuses on replacing five aging elementary schools, including Lowrie and McKinley, both of which were built in Elgin in the 1800s.
Three other schools -- Century Oaks in Elgin, Parkwood in Hanover Park and Glenbrook in Streamwood -- also would be rebuilt. Those three schools were built in the 1970s, but the pod-style layout for classrooms no longer is efficient, officials have said.
Though the district is asking for $179 million, officials stressed approval would not result in a property tax increase, as U-46 plans to replace retiring bond debt with new debt. However, taxes would go down if voters rejected the request.
Prospect Heights Fire
The Prospect Heights Fire Protection District requests permission to issue $10 million in bonds for modernization of its equipment and the first upgrade to its 79-year-old station since an addition in 1992.
If voters approve, the owner of a $300,000 house in the district would pay about $135 more a year. Residents can estimate their increase by finding the fire district's charge on their last tax bill and multiplying it by 15% (0.15).
Though the 10,000-square-foot station is smaller than the average 25,000-square-foot station of the region, Prospect Heights Fire Chief Drew Smith said the plan is to make it more usable without expanding.
• Daily Herald staff writers Alice Fabbre, Russell Lissau, Steve Zalusky and Eric Peterson contributed to this report.