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Voters to consider McHenry area, Marengo, countywide referendums on Election Day

Questions to go before voters in McHenry area, Marengo, county

McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan looks toward board Chairman Jack Franks as Franks talks to board members during a McHenry County Board meeting March 19 at the McHenry County Administration Building.
McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan looks toward board Chairman Jack Franks as Franks talks to board members during a McHenry County Board meeting March 19 at the McHenry County Administration Building.

McHenry County residents will have a chance to vote on referendum questions Election Day countywide, and in Marengo and the McHenry area.

McHenry

The city of McHenry and McHenry High School District 156 both have referendums on the midterm ballot.

The city wants taxpayer approval to take out up to $30 million in bonds to pay for the expansion of its recreation center, which would include an indoor pool, more indoor space and the creation of a family aquatic park that would include a lazy river, diving well, a spray pad, leisure swimming area and water slides.

Anyone who lives within McHenry’s corporate limits will have a chance to vote on whether the city should move forward with the plan. A property owner with a $168,000 home would pay about $180 annually in property taxes for 20 years to pay off the project.

It likely will be at least a year or two before the payments toward the bonds hit the tax rolls.

McHenry District 156

McHenry High School District 156 is asking voters to support a referendum that would allow the district to issue $44 million in bonds to renovate McHenry West and turn McHenry East into a “freshman-only” school.

The funding would pay for projects including priority life-and-safety projects at East and West campuses; the expansion of West Campus and elimination of aging mobile classrooms; and implement a Science, Technology and Industry Center at McHenry West.

The ultimate plan is to house all freshman students at McHenry East and send grades 10 through 12 to the expanded McHenry West.

The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 school year if voters approve the referendum, district officials said.

A taxpayer with a $200,000 home currently pays about $273 annually toward the district’s current bonds, which the district is set to pay off in levy year 2018. If the referendum is approved, those payments would be replaced, and the same taxpayer would pay about $208 annually in property taxes to pay for the new building bonds, according to district documents.

If the referendum is defeated, the payment will fall off property tax bills.

At least two McHenry County Board members, Chuck Wheeler and John Reinert, said they oppose the school’s plan.

“While I wholeheartedly support public education and the wonderful job that teachers do, McHenry County is losing population for the first time in its history, and property taxes are a major driver in the ongoing exodus,” Reinert said.

Marengo

A nonbinding referendum on the ballot asks voters whether the Park District should look into reopening the pool at Indian Oaks Park. The study could cost taxpayers up to $150,000 total, and there also would be costs to repair and maintain the facility.

The Park District shuttered its pool in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure amid a financial crisis.

McHenry Township

Should the road district be abolished? Voters will decide whether McHenry Township should consolidate with the district. If approved, the township would take on all responsibilities and powers currently held by the road district.

McHenry County term limits

Two countywide referendums are on the ballot that deal with term limits.

The first asks whether County Board members should be held to term limits. If the referendum is approved, the term limit would be set to 12 cumulative years.

No one who has served for 12 years would be eligible to run again.

The second referendum asks whether the McHenry County Board chairman should be held to term limits. If approved, the limit would be set to 10 years, or two terms.

No one who has served that amount of time would be eligible to run again.

The term limit rule would be effective in the November 2020 general elections.

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