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Sycamore Park District to hold bond sales hearing

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Park District board will hold a public hearing today on roughly $530,000 in bond sales during a meeting that could help set the future course for major projects.

The annual bond sale would help fund the park district’s yearly capital costs such as playground maintenance and needed replacements and is already part of the budget, which is divided into a capital and recreation fund. Roughly $180,000 would go toward paying down old debt while the rest would cover capital costs.

The proposed sale comes at a time when the district is projected to take in about $32,000 less in property tax revenue.

The board will also finalize the roster of a 21-person long-term planning committee made up of community leaders before announcing its members and mission to the public, said Dan Gibble, park district executive director.

Although the annual bond sale is enough to cover ongoing capital costs, Gibble said there would be a need for a referendum for more borrowing in the coming years if the community wants to update its 30-plus-year-old pool, a restricted-use community center on a short lease, major drainage issues at the golf course and an expansion of pathways.

The long-term planning committee’s job would be to use public input to prioritize what major projects could be done while the park board continues to work toward short-term goals of restoring reserves after deficit-spending has eaten away about $400,000 over multiple years, Gibble said.

Gibble said he would like to have a public hearing next year on a proposal that would lay out the park district’s vision for 2020.

Ted Strack, park district board president, said there is no urgency to seek a referendum, but one would be needed if community members want services such as a pool.

“For five people on the [park district] board to say we know what the community wants, we would be kidding ourselves,” Strack said. “That is why we are reaching out to key community members with this committee.”

The park board has made progress toward restoring financial order. The board eliminated a projected $155,000 deficit in the most recent budget when it cut two full-time positions in April and decreased hours for seasonal workers and golf pro shop employees.

But Strack said there still is work to be done before large projects can be addressed.

“Our fund levels are not where we need them to be,” he said. “We have to get them to an appropriate level again.”

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