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New Lenox park district asking to maintain tax rate

Published: Saturday, July 19, 2014 11:19 p.m. CDT

NEW LENOX – Park officials in New Lenox will again ask voters to maintain a tax rate that will go down unless a referendum is passed.

Park officials will ask in the Nov. 4 general election to maintain the New Lenox Community Park District tax rate at roughly .06 cents of taxing authority. The tax rate was raised to that amount to help pay for the Sanctuary Golf Course, but park officials are looking to keep the rate to help pay for neighborhood parks and other construction projects.

“We need money to continue adding facilities because state money is drying up,” said Greg Lewis, the park district’s executive director.

The same referendum failed to pass in the March 18 primary election. At the time, Lewis was worried the language on the ballot confused voters by saying they were looking for a tax increase instead of maintaining the rate. This time, park officials are listing specific projects they plan to complete by keeping the tax rate, he said. 

The Nov. 4 ballot will still have language asking voters if they want the tax rate to be increased. Park officials say the ballot question requires language approved by the Illinois General Assembly, and it cannot be worded any other way.

If voters agree to the referendum, the park district may complete short-term and long-term projects, including:

• Development of Taylor Glen, Bristol, Water Chase and Prairie Ridge Parks.

• New playgrounds at Cherry Hill, Laurel Meadows and Spencer Parks.

• Fishing Pier at Sharon’s Bay Park.

• Addition of shade systems at Hibernia and Palmer Valley Parks.

• Improvements and upgrades at existing facilities.

If the referendum fails in November, it will result in a roughly $755,000 annual reduction in available funding to maintain and expand parks and facilities, park officials said. 

“This referendum question affects everyone: athletic associations, clubs, the business community as well as our families that currently use our facilities,” wrote Brian Fischer, park board president, in a letter to residents. “Everyone wants your park district to add, update and maintain facilities but we all must realize that this comes at a cost.” 

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