Glencoe puts capital projects question on Nov. 6 ballot
Updated: August 21, 2012 12:30PM
Glencoe trustees have given the go-ahead for a November 6 referendum to approve what may be the biggest bond issue in the village’s history.
The board unanimously agreed last week to place the $8.55 million measure on the ballot to fund three different kinds of infrastructure. In the last generation, the closest the village has come to that is the $7.4 million 2009 bond issue that paved streets, rehabbed Village Hall and bought a new fire engine.
But everything is relative. Bond referendums from School District 35 — and from New Trier High School — have dwarfed village referendums.
And the village issue is likely to be relatively pain-free, according to the estimate provided by Glencoe Finance Director Dave Clark Monday.
He said that the bonds will, at first, cost about $36 on an annual $10,000 tax bill.
Later, they will cost more, but the total amount of taxes set aside for Glencoe municipal debt is expected to be less than it is today.
Glencoe’s debt has dropped the last three years, as the Village Board reacted to the economic slump by giving taxpayers some breathing room, and holding off some projects. The total debt dropped from about $2.7 million in 2009 to about $1.3 million now, and property taxes for debt have ridden down with it.
If no new bonds are approved, the debt would drop to around $1.3 million in 2018, then to zero the following year.
But that would mean that infrastructure would deteriorate, and no improvements would be made.
With approval of the proposed bonds, total village debt would rise slightly in the short term, to around $1.5 million through 2018, when the back-loaded, 15-year issue will settle the debt level at around $1.1 million through 2027.
Infrastructure and capital improvement bond referendums will still come around every three years or so, but trustees expect that the gap between the $2.7 million 2009 debt level and the $1.5 million average for much of this decade — and $1.1 million 2019 through 2027 — will allow room for more debt as the need arises.
There wouldn’t be room in that gap for a couple of issues of the size voters will be asked to approve Nov. 6, however. But that’s not expected to be necessary, trustee Larry Levin said Tuesday.
He noted that 63 percent of the issue is for three flood-control projects, at the tail end of a long skein of such jobs.
“We’ve done all the major projects, and that left just three,” he said. “That means this whole program, from 1988 ‘til now, is over, except for some little things.
“So we’re not expected to do another bond issue of this size.”
This issue is bigger than usual, he said, because of the cheap money available in the bond market. Trustees don’t expect that to last much longer.
After this, Levin said, he expects recurring referendums to be for $2 million to $4 million.
In addition to the $5.4 million for the flood control projects, the current issue includes $2 million for street resurfacing, $800,000 in sanitary sewer work and $200,000 in sidewalk improvements. The remaining $155,000 is for bond transaction costs.
The flood control projects are designed to reduce flooding in basins centered at Elm Place/Valley Street, Greenwood Avenue/Oakdale Avenue and Harbor Street/Linden Avenue.
The sanitary sewer work is also intended to have an impact on flood control. Linings would be added to over four miles of pipe, which would reduce the tendency of flood water to leak into sanitary sewers, then back up into basements.
Glencoe resorts to frequent referendums because its non-home-rule status prevents raising taxes more than the cost of living, without a vote.
When asked, residents usually say yes.
Glencoe voters haven’t rejected a village bond issue since 1999, when an initiative to spend $1.9 million on downtown street-scape improvements was narrowly defeated. A scaled-back $1.2 million measure passed two years later.