In the agenda for the McHenry County Board’s Legislative and Audit Committee 8:30 AM meeting for April 10th appear resolutions saying that its members support the passage of two bills sponsored by State Senator Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay.
One would allow the issuance of non-referendum bonds.
The other would allow the hiking of the corporate rate by 50% after voter approval. (The McHenry County Conservation Foundation, started with money I content should have been put in MCCD coffers, financed the 2001 and 2007 bond referendums.)
The reason for the bond bill is obvious. No one notices non-referendum bonds. (For those in the Crystal Lake Park District, can you tell me how much non-referendum bonds are outstanding. Same with schools.)
Legislative and Audit Committee member Nick Provenzano said that passage of the bill would allow the Conservation District to sell
- $4-5 million the first year
- $8 million the second year
- $25 million the third year
(This information is not included in the Conservation District memo below or in a supplement which will be published tomorrow.)
The reason for MCCD’s wanting to increase the basic tax rate from 10 to 15 cents a hundred dollars of assessed valuation is that the Property Tax Cap is finally going to benefit real estate taxpayers.
Those running tax districts, one may have noticed, almost think that maintaining and expanding their empires are more important than saving taxpayers money.
SUPPORT - SB 3341 & SB 3342
SPONSOR SENATOR PAMELA J. ALTHOFF
Amends the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 410)
The McHenry County Conservation District, located in NE Illinois, was established in 1971 for the purpose of preserving natural areas and historic/cultural sites, restoring wildlife habitat and providing trails, outdoor recreational facilities, and education programs for the general public to enjoy.
What the Proposed Amendment Does
SB 3341 and SB 3342 make four (4) main changes to the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 410) and pertains only to the McHenry County Conservation District:
- Corrects a stacking issue between referendum and non-referendum bonds when calculating the debt limit. (SB 3341)
- Adds a refunded bonds piece so they do not count towards limit (a refunded bond is a bond that is still outstanding, but the money to pay for it is held in an irrevocable fund for payment). (SB 3341)
- Allows real property development using non-referendum bonds for limited purposes and only on land acquired via referendum. (SB 3341)
- Allows the District to ask voters for a corporate rate up to .15% via referendum. The current rate is .1%. (SB 3342)
The main purpose is to correct an unintended consequence that occurred when the Conservation District Act (70ILCS 410) was amended in 1989 to allow the McHenry County Conservation District to increase its maximum debt limit from .575% to 1.725% through voter approved referenda. It clarifies that voter-approved bonds are excluded from non-referendum debt limit.
Recently the District looked to finance its outstanding debt and became aware of this issue after receiving a legal opinion from bond counsel that the statute does not sufficiently distinguish voter approved bonds from those bonds issued subject to the District’s non-
referendum debt authority. While the District’s bond counsel took this view, other attorney’s said while it was somewhat unclear, the District probably had the authority under the current statute, but should follow bond counsel.
The current language as interpreted by bond counsel would penalize the District for asking its voters for the additional bonding. Other conservation districts and units of local government have similar statutory authority to what the amendment proposes. The District is looking for clarification on bonding authority to sufficiently distinguish voter-approved bonds from non-referendum debt limit so that bond counsel can render a formal legal opinion.
The District is also asking to issue non-referendum bonds for real property development, but limited to the purposes outlined in the amendment, which include maintaining trails, parking lots, bridges, ADA requirements, and structure demolition or stabilization as the case may be.
There are a variety of historical structures that are located on the land acquired with the
voter approved bond issuances that people want access to, but there is no money to engage
in those projects.
The change to increase the general corporate rate applies only to McHenry County Conservation District and has to be approved by the voters via referendum.
As the largest conservation district in the state, the District is facing budgetary restrictions because of all of the projects voters have asked for and approved through referenda.
For information, contact Elizabeth S. Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District at 815.260.7206 EKessler@MCCDistrict.org or
Andy Dylak, Director of Finance & Administration at 815.338.6223, ext. 1226 or