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Bull Valley rethinks $5 million referendum

Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 5:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:11 a.m. CDT

BULL VALLEY – Bull Valley officials don't want your vote for a referendum to fix the roads.

You read that correctly.

Officials have rethought their request to issue $5 million in alternative revenue bonds to repair village roads.

"Yeah, we're asking for a no vote," Village Administrator Rich Vance said. "If it does go, then we're not going to get the bonds."

Vance said that faced with depleted village roads after a detrimental winter, the village board had voted to ask for the referendum before fully exploring other revenue sources.

Now, the board wants to take a step back and look into grants. They've also been getting help from area townships, Vance said, to fill potholes and provide labor toward plowing streets – assistance that, in a small way, offsets need.

Alternative revenue bonds are sometimes referred to as "double barrel bonds." The taxing body typically relies on an alternative revenue source – things such as motor-fuel taxes or user fees – to pay off the bonds. The second "barrel," if need be, is taxpayer dollars.

But Bull Valley was planning to use future property tax dollars to pay off the alternative revenue bonds, Vance said.

The village used a similar tactic in 1998 when they issued $1 million in alternative revenue bonds to be paid off by property taxes, Village Attorney Michael Smoron said.

The $5 million measure, if passed, would have raised property taxes by $600 to $800 per household, depending on assessed value, Vance said.

"I think with the bond referendum, they were trying to get something together and they voted on $5 million, and they turned down $3 million," Vance said. "As time went on they realized ... do we really want to do this now when we can look at the possibility of more grants?"

Vance said the realization came after the deadline to remove the measure from the ballot.

He added that the request for no votes has little do with the state of the streets. The village will assess other potential revenue streams before considering another – possibly reduced – referendum in the fall.

"The roads are in absolute dire need of repair," Vance said. "I spent an hour and a half driving the roads in Bull Valley and I feel embarrassed. I've got my guys out there doing everything they can to fill the holes."

He encouraged residents to be patient and, with questions, contact him at the village hall by calling 815-459-4833.

The village will also address the referendum and roads at its upcoming town hall meeting, which is set for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Center, 2710 S. Country Club Road, Woodstock.

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