On a 9-1 vote, McHenry County State Rep. Mike Tryon has moved Senate Bill 3341, the bill to allow the McHenry County Conservation District to borrow money without a referendum, from the House Revenue Committee.
That will, of course, lead to higher property tax bills as the new bonds are repaid.
The only opposition vote in committee was David McSweeney’s. He also represents part of McHenry County.
In the Senate the bill was sponsored by two senators representing McHenry County–Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay.
Here’s a description of the bill:
Provides that a district located entirely within McHenry County may incur indebtedness for the development of real property, all or a portion of which has been acquired with referendum-approved bonds. Describes “development”. Sets forth a list of the types of bonds that do not limit a district from issuing non-referendum debt. Makes other changes.
The specific language follows:
7 (b-5) For the purpose of development of real property, all
8 or a portion of which has been acquired with
9 referendum-approved bonds, a district located entirely within
10 McHenry County may incur indebtedness and, as evidence of the
11 indebtedness thus created, may issue and sell bonds without
12 first obtaining the consent of the legal voters of the
13 district. Development, for the purposes of this subsection
14 (b-5), shall mean the improvement or maintenance of existing
15 trails, parking lots, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, and
16 other improvements, adding or improving access to conservation
17 areas or district facilities to comply with the Americans with
18 Disabilities Act, demolition of unnecessary or unsafe
19 structures, and the stabilization, revitalization or
20 rehabilitation of historic structures.
14 The following do not in any way limit the right of a
15 district to issue non-referendum bonds under this Section:
16 bonds heretofore or hereafter issued and outstanding that are
17 approved by referendum, as described in this subsection (d);
18 refunding bonds issued to refund or continue to refund bonds
19 approved by referendum; and bonds issued under this Section
20 that have been paid in full or for which provisions for payment
21 have been made by an irrevocable deposit of funds in an amount
22 sufficient to pay the principal and interest on those bonds to
23 their respective maturity date.
The bill now goes to the House floor, where it could be passed in time to raise next year’s property tax bills.
This is part of a two-bill package instigated by the McHenry County Conservation District.
Articles on this attempt to raise McHenry County real estate taxes:
The most recent article was from May. It is below:
Before the McHenry County Republican Party’s Convention last month, State Rep. Mike Tryon and I spent some time talking about the bills that State Senators Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay had passed unanimously sent to the House of Representatives.
After I told him my reservations, he asked me why I thought he had taken the bills with the intention of passing them.
Both bills are in subcommittees.
Bills sent to subcommittees have a tendency to stay there.
Now word has reached me from a reliable source that Tryon indeed has decided to let them stay in subcommittee.
I’m also informed that the Northwest Herald has been told by Tryon that the bills are dead.
A thank you from McHenry County taxpayers is in order. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What this means is that the Conservation District’s attempted end run around the limits set by the Property Tax Cap, while successful in the State Senate, were not favored by those in the Illinois House.
End of story.
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The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County have already sent out an email asking members to contact legislators in support of the bill. You can see the email below:
Member Action Alert
Please call your legislator today to help MCCD.
Back in 1971, Defenders’ members worked hard to help successfully establish the McHenry County Conservation District. Since then MCCD has done a great job of protecting and managing some of the most fragile and scenic natural areas in our county for the benefit of all the species that live there and for the enjoyment of all the citizens of McHenry County. Helping them continue with this all important work is one way we Defenders can help fulfill our mission of “building sound ecological relationships between people and the natural world that supports all life”. MCCD needs our help now. Here’s how you can help them.
Please read the summary below of Senate Bill 3341. Then call your McHenry County legislators today to ask them to support SB3341!
SB3341 clarifies language about the bonds that the McHenry County Conservation District can issue. Not being able to issue these bonds prevents MCCD from being able to fund repair of structures or maintenance of conservation properties. This is an incredibly important local issue that is being decided at the state level.
Please make your voice heard in support of SB3341 by Wednesday, December 3 at noon by calling McHenry County legislators in their Springfield offices. Legislators are in Springfield right now and this important bill will be heard in committee on Tuesday, December 2 at 10AM. Your calls are needed over the next two days to make sure that McHenry County House members support this bill.
Please call your representative at the number below. When a Staffer answers, just let them know that you would like your representative to support SB3341. It will only take a couple minutes of your time. If you need to look up your rep, look here. http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx
- Rep. Mike Tryon – Say thanks for sponsoring the bill – (217) 782-0432
- Rep. Barb Wheeler – Say thanks for her support of the bill – (217) 782-1664
- Rep. Jack Franks – Ask him to support the bill – (217) 782-1717
- Rep. Dave McSweeney – Ask him to support the bill –
Thanks for helping to protect our environment in McHenry County!
SENATE SPONSORS: PAMELA J. ALTHOFF & KAREN MCCONNAUGHAY
HOUSE SPONSORS: MICHAEL W. TRYON
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 make three (3) 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.
- Adds a refunded bonds piece so they do not count against the District’s debt 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).
- Allows non-referendum bonds to be issued for development of real property for limited purposes and only on land acquired via voter-approved referendum.
The main purpose is to correct an unintended consequence that occurred when the Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 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 its non-referendum debt limit. As the non-referendum debt is paid down, the District should be allowed like other units of government to issue new non-referendum debt up to its statutory limit of .575% as allowed under PTELL.
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 attorneys said while it was somewhat unclear, the District probably had the authority under the current statute, but should follow the opinion of bond counsel. The current language as interpreted by bond counsel penalizes the District for asking its voters for the additional bonding. Other conservation districts, park districts and units of local government already have similar statutory authority to what the amendment proposes.
The District is also asking to have the flexibility to issue non-referendum bonds for the development of real property, limited to the purposes outlined in the amendment, which include maintaining trails, parking lots, bridges, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance requirements, and structure demolition or stabilization as the case may be. One of the properties acquired by the District through voter-approved bonds, Camp Algonquin, was listed on Landmark Illinois’ Top Ten Most Endangered Places in Illinois on April 1, 2014 and is falling into disrepair and is at serious risk of being lost. Conservation areas cannot be open to the public until unsafe structures are removed, modifications to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act for universal access are made, and funds to maintain the sites secured.
For information, contact Elizabeth S. Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District at 815.260.7206 EKessler@MCCDistrict.org .