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Revenue from gambling helps pay for local projects

Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 11:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 8:52 a.m. CDT

The state legalized video gambling in 2009 as part of its $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan. It was expected to bring in between $288 million and $534 million a year to help pay off the 20-year bonds for the capital plan.

The state had to borrow $13 billion for the Illinois Jobs Now! plan.

Other revenue sources included increased motor vehicle fees, new sales taxes on candy, coffee, sweetened tea, grooming and hygiene products, and a liquor tax.

Among the projects the capital plan helped pay for are constructing the Algonquin Route 31 Western Bypass, which is expected to help alleviate traffic in downtown Algonquin; replacing a roof at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake; and removing asbestos from Alden-Hebron High School.

The state Board of Education was able to start a School Maintenance Project Grant program, which provides up to $50,000 in matching grants to school districts for the maintenance or upkeep of school buildings.

Among the local school districts that received money during the initial round of projects was Fox River Grove District 3.

Last year, District 3 performed $122,000 worth of capital projects, including replacing a curtain and matting in the gym, replacing cafeteria tables, and replacing the fire alarm system at Algonquin Road Elementary School.

The district received a $50,000 reimbursement from the state, which allowed it to move up some projects on its five-year capital outlay plan, Superintendent Tim Mahaffy said.

“It helped this year [because] we were able to do our roofing project,” Mahaffy said. “When you get the capital money, it allows you to do a little more.”

McHenry may receive $700,000 in a Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant through the capital bill to help pay for the proposed Huntersville subdivision sanitary sewer connection project. 

A plan to put in sewer lines that would be available for residents to connect to if their septic systems fail would cost about $700,000, McHenry Public Works Director Jon Schmitt said.

“If we didn’t have this opportunity for this grant, it would be dead in the water,” Schmitt said.

Fox River Grove was slated to receive $200,000 from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in capital bill funding. The village spent that amount to help pay to extend utilities along County Line Road and expand the shoulder on the road in preparation for the construction of a public works facility.

So far Fox River Grove has received about half of the money for the project. It is in the process of submitting paperwork to receive the rest, Village Administrator Karl Warwick said.

“It saves us a couple hundred thousand dollars to extend utilities to that site,” Warwick said. If the village doesn’t build on the site, “it makes the property more valuable and viable because utilities are already there.”

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