Glenview parks president says bond measure to fund 'niche projects' is unfair
Should public money support niche projects that only a handful of taxpayers will use or benefit from?
That question was at the center of a recent debate among Glenview Park District Board members regarding placing a $17 million bond issue referendum question on the March 20 primary ballot. The funds are to be earmarked in part for a renovation of an ice center, according to a story in Journal & Topics, a print and online newspaper based in Des Plaines.
The improvements would add an additional rink to the facility, enabling it to serve as a site for more events, in turn making it more self-sustaining, according to the article.
Although a task force commissioned to study the Glenview Ice Center, as well as improvements to The Grove and other facilities, reduced the bond request from $24 million to the $17 million, it failed to convince Park Board President Robert Patton to back the proposal.
At a Dec. 21 board meeting, Patton took issue with the measure, arguing the ice center is a niche interest and should be able to pay for itself rather than requiring a bond issue.
“Glenview’s taxpayers pay for a facility that approximately 6 percent of Glenview taxpayers use,” Patton said during the hearing, as quoted in Journal & Topics. “It would be extremely unfair to ask 94 percent of the Glenview taxpayers that don’t use the ice center to pay for it to be built, and then ask those same 94 percent to also pay for it to be operated going forward by having the ice center be subsidized by ongoing future taxes.”
Patton did not return emails from the North Cook News regarding this story.
Commissioner Jennifer Roberts was quoted in the report as saying that relying on the community’s use to pay for the facility is a theory that may not work in real-world circumstances.
The ice center relies on $100,000 in annual support from the park district to sustain it, and millions more are needed to satisfy current building code requirement, Journal & Topics reported.
Instead of the $17 million bond issue, Patton described an alternative plan that would require the center to pay for itself and that all money it generates in excess of its operating budget be refunded to citizens who pay property tax, the Journal & Topics article said.
The difference between the two plans amounts to about $35 in additional taxes property owners would owe on a $500,000 home, the article stated. However, that figure could climb as high as $59 or $89 annually, depending on whether the bond is slated to pay out in 20 years or 14 years, two proposals under consideration.
Park officials claim the 14-year, $89 tax hike would be offset by declines from other property tax increases as they expire.
Currently, the Glenview Park District has an Aaa rating from Moody's Investors Services.