Interpret this press release as you wish, but I think the bill is aimed at McHenry County College.
It could be aimed at abuses in Lakewood from over twenty years ago when the Village Board sold alternative revenue bonds to buy a golf course.
That abuse, in which Lakewood sold bonds backed by golf course revenues which fell 53% short of paying back the borrowed money, was featured, along with other similar, non-Home Rule municipal abuses in which villages made an end-run around taxpayers was featured in the Sunday Chicago Tribune on January 6th.
January 6th was one day before the Northwest Herald ran an article on its front page reassuring readers that tax dollars wold not be needed to pay for the proposed more than $40-plus million health club, et al.
In any event, here is the joint press release:
McSweeney-Franks Aim to End Alternate Revenue Bond Abuses
McHenry County –State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and State Representative Jack Franks (D-Marengo) have filed HB983; a bipartisan effort to ensure greater fiscal accountability.
Recent press reports have exposed how the current alternate revenue bond law has facilitated risky deals that have resulted in increased local taxes.
If passed, the new legislation would address the ease at which alternative revenue bonds are issued because the current process sidesteps taxpayers and property tax caps in many cases.
“This is a common sense bill that allows taxpayers to more easily organize a referendum to oppose local borrowing proposals,” said McSweeney.
“We are talking about large sums of taxpayer money.
“Property taxes are skyrocketing while local governments keep borrowing for what they want and cannot afford.”
For alternate revenue bonds, HB 983 provides for measures to encourage fiscal responsibility by making the Chief Procurement officer [a state official] responsible for providing accurate information about how alternate revenue bonds would be paid off.
Local governments would no longer be able to use consultants to do this important work.
Revenues from the venture should be able to pay off 150% of the debt; this is being increased from 100%.
Finally, the bill extends the allowance for petition signatures for a backdoor referendum from 30 to 90 days and in order to initiate a referendum this bill would require the lesser of 5% (currently 7.5%) of registered voters in the governmental unit or 500 signatures of those registered voters.
The most significant change is to require only 500 signatures to initiate a backdoor referendum.
“Municipalities have little oversight when it comes to borrowing millions of dollars which often times end up being a back door tax hike on residents, ” added Franks.
“Oversight needs to be put into the hands of the taxpayers. We must increase accountability for our taxing bodies and empower the taxpayers to serve as fiscal guardians.”
Rep. McSweeney is Chief Sponsor of HB983 and Rep. Franks signed on as Chief Co-Sponsor. The legislation was filed yesterday.