The scam works this way.
The school board passes a resolution to borrow money (issue bonds).
Taxpayers do have a short time to gather an extraordinary percentage of the voters’ signatures.
Districts typically publish the notice of the possibility of what is called a “backdoor” referendum during the winter when people find it too cold to go door-to-door.
“Sneaky” does not begin to describe this practice. “Evil” comes to mind.
If enough signatures are not gathered to force a referendum, taxes go up to pay back the bonds.
In the worst-case scenario, the school district then drains the Working Cash Fund and the process starts all over.
A tax increase without a referendum followed by another tax increase without a referendum, ad infinitum.
The Belvidere School Board is using a different permutation of this scam, a friend of McHenry County Blog has informed me.
The Belvidere school board tax hikers want $23 million, but don’t want to have to go through one of those messy referendums.
So much easier just to take almost half that amount with a majority vote of the school board.
Hey, it’ll only cost 3-5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation says PMA financial advisor Scott Smith, but he told Rockford Register-Star reporter Kevin Haas,
“Right now, it is difficult to say what would happen with the tax rate overall.”
This guy Smith says it will only cost $20 to $34 more a year on a $200,000 house.
How many years?
Taxpayers wanting the courtesy of a vote on the November ballot have until February 25th to gather more than 2,500 signatures.
Considering the cost, it might be worth the work of gathering petition signatures.
Petitions are supposed to be provided by the school district. (If they are not, please let me know.)
Here’s what Lyle Morgensen, a former business manager for School District 100 told Haas,
“It seems to me that the taxpayer should have the opportunity to decide if this is a good thing for the district or not.”
And, should they get than number, based on the experience of folks in the Elgin school district who did similarly, the local school board will hire lawyers to eliminate the unregistered voters in order to get the number lower than 10% and kill the referendum.
So, if you go after signatures aim for at least 3,500.
35 people would only have to get 100 per person.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done.
That’s no reason not to try, though.
I gathered 1,100 signatures in one week (I’ll grant it was summer) standing outside of the Jewel grocery store in Crystal Lake in the late 1980’s.
So, don’t tell me it can’t be done.
I’ll be some high traffic store would let you stand inside.
And, start thinking about who is going to run against these anti-democratic school board members next year.
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Signs are from the second Belvidere school bond referendum.