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Our view of DuPage County referendums
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Published: 10/25/2008 11:34 PM

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In this economy, government must do what families are doing: Live within its means and spend only what's necessary. In nine days voters will face measures that can't be judged in terms of quality alone. There are proposals we would have supported in a different economy. This doesn't mean all requests should be rejected; some are crucial enough we believe they should be approved in uncertain times.

Bensenville Elementary District 2

Not much has changed since voters rejected Bensenville Elementary District 2's request to borrow millions to build schools. Officials say they continue to have overcrowding, temporary classrooms and band taught in halls. They want to build a prekindergarten through second-grade center and a third- through fifth-grade facility. The plan includes improvements to Blackhawk Middle School. But the district needs permission to borrow an estimated $50 million. Approval would mean the owner of a $250,000 house would be taxed roughly $300 more a year. Officials say the school board could delay borrowing all or part of the money until the economic climate improves. Children deserve a better environment for learning. As long as board members consider the financial situation of their constituents before borrowing money, we recommend a yes on this proposal.

Villa Park Library

Villa Park Library officials have good reasons for asking voters for permission to build and operate a $24.9 million building. For starters, the proposed 48,000-square-foot facility can't be built unless the library gets more land. While that land could be acquired now, no one knows how long it will be available. Officials say they need more room. A new building would address many woes, including lack of space for programs, computers and quiet study areas. If voters OK the plan to construct that building, it would add roughly $172 to the property tax bill of the owner of a $250,000 home. To operate the building, the library wants a tax rate increase of 8 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. That would cost an additional $63 annually for the owners of a $250,000 home. We don't think it's the right time to ask taxpayers to dig deeper. We recommend a no vote.

Lisle Park District

Lisle Park District is asking voters for $21.9 million to build an 85,449-square-foot recreation facility. It would meet growing program demands and replace both its outdated community center and the Meadows Center. The owner of a $300,000 house would pay about $99 more a year to the district for the next 20 years.

Supporters say the building would be more flexible, useful and cost-efficient than existing facilities. They say operational costs largely would be offset by increased revenues and savings in maintenance and utility bills. Without it, they say, the district will have to spend roughly $10 million to renovate existing facilities that, in the end, still won't meet program demands.

The district makes a strong case, but it's not enough in these troubled times. With more than a tinge of regret, we reluctantly say no.

Oakbrook Terrace clerk

Oakbrook Terrace voters will decide whether to switch from an elected city clerk to an appointed one. Supporters say the move will give the city of fewer than 5,000 flexibility to create a detailed job description and find someone with the skills to replace longtime clerk Elaine De Luca, who is retiring. Given the city's size and pool of candidates, we support a yes vote. Winfield Township roads

Once again, Winfield Township is asking voters for money to fix roads. Officials say they need $200,000 a year for the road maintenance budget. If approved, the owner of a $300,000 house will pay $20 more next year to the township. Officials must modify the request. We recommend a no vote.