Glencoe voters will be asked via referendum from the Village of Glencoe to authorize the issuance of $10 million in general obligation bonds to fund several years of infrastructure projects.
If approved, the bond sale will be used to finance three years of capital improvement projects that include stormwater management improvements, sanitary sewer work, street resurfacing, and sidewalk replacement and installation, Glencoe Village Manager Phil Kiraly told The Record.
The question will appear on the consolidated election ballot as:
“Shall the Village of Glencoe, Cook County, Illinois, undertake storm sewer improvements, sanitary sewer upgrades, street resurfacing and lighting, and sidewalk installation and replacement, all on property owned by the Village or over which the Village has sufficient easements, and issue its general obligation bonds to the amount of $10,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof, said bonds bearing interest at not to exceed the rate of 6.00% per annum?”
As a non-home-rule community, Glencoe requires voter approval to issue debt of this nature, thus the necessity for a ballot referendum, Kiraly said.
The village is proposing to spread the $10 million across four project areas: $4.1 million is storm sewer improvements, $3.9 million in street resurfacing and lighting, $1.2 million in sanitary sewer upgrades, and $800,000 in sidewalk improvements.
Approval of the referendum, which will require a simple majority, will add $90 per $10,000 of property taxes to the annual bill, officials estimate.
This is the first time Glencoe has gone to referendum since 2015, according to Kiraly. Prior to that, the village went to referendum in 2005, 2009 and 2012.
The six-year gap in referenda is longer than usual.
“This is longer than typical and part of the reason is that we really were able to stretch the last referendum resources,” Kiraly said. “We went to the bond market at the right time and we got some great interest rates.”
Also over the gap, the Village stretched funding thanks to a timely request for proposal process that struck low interest rates, Kiraly said.
He did also say the pandemic-affected 2020 likely contributed.
“I think we might have gone to referendum earlier had 2020 looked different,” he said. “I think it slowed us down quite a bit.”
“We did defer a significant amount of capital that was programmed in last year’s budget and we’re catching up with some of that this year outside of the bond referendum process. But it is relatively unusual for us to wait six years to go back to the voters on the referendum but we did it because it was the right thing to do and those dollars were available for us so it helped us to get a lot more done than we thought we might have.”
If the referendum does not pass, the village will likely defer the projects, Kiraly said.
“We don’t have $10 million dollars of available resources to address these needs so it’s likely that we would have to address them more slowly and plan for a future referendum question again at some point in the future, either in 2022 or beyond,” he said.
A factor in deciding to go to referendum relates to Glencoe’s 10-year Community Investment Plan. That plan, as currently constructed, includes approximately $51.7 million worth of capital improvements, according to village documents.
Those funds are earmarked to be spent over a 10-year period.
In conjunction with developing the plan, Glencoe officials simultaneously started to create a financing plan for the projects. Because of the non-home rule designation, debt issuance — a way to fund large-scale investments — is required through a referendum in Glencoe.
“They’re a number of components that go into that decision-making process, but ultimately we had begun that conversation as part of our last budget back in the middle of 2020 and looking ahead to the needs of the next three years, had identified $10 million worth of projects,” Kiraly said. “This was born out of that and the board approved an ordinance back in December that placed the referendum question on this ballot.”
Additional information about the referendum can be found here.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.