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Bill that would open up additional funding options for MCCD passes

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 5:55 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – A bill that would give the McHenry County Conservation District an avenue to bring in more property taxes passed the Illinois Senate unanimously Monday.

The bill, which was sponsored by local state Sens. Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay, would allow the conservation district to ask voters whether it can raise its maximum levy limit.

The amount the district can collect in property taxes for general purposes is limited to 0.1 percent of the county's equalized assessed value. If the bill receives approval from the House and governor, a referendum could raise that number to 0.15 percent.

As property values have fallen over the past several years, the conservation district has come closer and closer to approaching the levy cap.

It expects to reach the cap this year, and a budget approved last week estimates that the money it collects in property taxes will fall by $72,000 this fiscal year.

The bill comes as Camp Algonquin, the century-old camp located in the Fox Bluff Conservation Area, is named to Landmarks Illinois' annual list of endangered historic places.

The district's Board of Trustees had originally considered demolishing all but one of the camp's buildings, but later decided to rethink possible uses for an additional three buildings.

District Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler said in a release that a rate increase is "necessary if the District is to broaden its mission to preserve, restore, maintain and provide public access to historic structures of cultural significance."

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