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Tax, aggregation referendums fail countywide

McHenry County voters were not in the mood Tuesday to give government more money or more authority.

Countywide voters resoundingly rejected a proposal to create a new taxing body to help the developmentally disabled. McHenry High School District 156 voters told the school board that it couldn’t spend the savings from a bond issuance on new technology.

Voters in Marengo and incorporated Wonder Lake rejected referendums to allow their respective governments to shop for cheaper electricity on their behalf.

The following is a roundup of the referendums that county voters defeated Tuesday. Vote totals do not include provisional and late absentee ballots.

• 377 BOARD FAILS – A referendum to create a new property tax to fund disability agencies failed by almost a 2-to-1 margin, according to unofficial totals.

The referendum asked voters to create a board, otherwise known as a “377 board,” that would disburse a special property tax to agencies that help the developmentally disabled. Voters were asked for a property-tax increase of 10 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, or about $60 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home who takes the homestead exemption.

Supporters, such as Options and Advocacy for McHenry County, highlighted the fact that only 18 percent of the county’s 5,200 people with developmental disabilities are receiving services. Agencies statewide cannot keep up with local need in great part because of state government’s $10 billion backlog of unpaid bills to vendors providing such services.

Options Executive Director Cindy Sullivan said she was sad that the referendum lost, and said that people with developmental disabilities really need the help.

“I guess we have to sit and figure out what we can do to attract more money to get these people at least some of the services they need so desperately,” Sullivan said.

The referendum received 11,075 “yes” votes and 20,562 “no” votes, according to unofficial totals released late Tuesday.

• HIGH SCHOOL BONDS – McHenry High School District 156 voters defeated a referendum to spend bond savings on new technology and school security.

The referendum asked voters whether the district could spend the $2.2 million it saved through refinancing $29 million in bonds. Most of that would have gone toward updating the school’s technology, with a smaller portion going toward installing security measures such as cameras.

The amount that property owners pay to the district will decrease slightly, or about $14 for the owner of a $200,000 home who takes the homestead exemption.

This is the fourth failed District 156 referendum since 2010. 

The referendum received 2,338 “yes” votes and 4,273 “no” votes, according to unofficial vote totals.

• AGGREGATION – Voters in Marengo and incorporated Wonder Lake rejected electrical aggregation.

It failed in Wonder Lake, 94-265, and failed in Marengo by only seven votes, with 457 voting “yes” and 464 voting “no.”

Aggregation allows governments to pool residential and small-business customers in the hope of negotiating for lower electric rates from providers.

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