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McHenry County College trustees consider bond restrictions

Published: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 8:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 11:39 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College Board members discussed policy changes Monday that would require voter approval before issuing alternative revenue bonds.

With a looming project for a health and fitness facility that could exceed $40 million, Trustee Chris Jenner proposed implementing a policy that would require the college to receive voter approval for alternative revenue bonds, which allow governmental bodies to receive large, long-term loans without a referendum.

Jenner pointed to the recent announcement from the village of Lakewood that it is looking to sell RedTail Golf Club. The facility failed to generate enough revenue to cover the alternative revenue bond issued two decades ago, leaving taxpayers to pick up the cost.

While no funding source has been selected for the potential facility project, Jenner said he did not want to see the same thing happen to residents who support McHenry County College and face rising property taxes.

"I don't want to hamstring us from taking a $10,000 bond," Jenner said of maintaining some debt authority with the board. "But alternative revenue bonds open the door ... there is nothing to prevent property taxes from going up."

Trustees Linda Liddell and Cynthia Kisser, who also serve on the policy committee, said there was merit to the idea, but they were not sold on the proposal. Kisser said although alternative revenue bonds should not be the main source, they could be a good supplement that would be difficult to receive if trustees had to wait for election cycles every time they wanted to pursue one.

Liddell said it could prevent the board from securing the best option for future projects.

"It's good always to think of what the community wants, but I disagree with tying it down where we'll never do this without getting voter approval," Liddell said. " Any time we go for additional money we should do a campaign to educate the community on what's going on and get feedback."

The trustees agreed to take the matter to the full board to see whether there was more support before pursuing it further.

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