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Sycamore Park District OKs putting tax hike referendum on ballot

Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:03 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:37 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – Sycamore voters will see a referendum for the Sycamore Park District on their ballots this November.

The park district commissioners voted Tuesday to add a referendum to the ballot to fund its Vision 2020 plan, which includes creating new amenities, with the largest project being a 22,400-square-foot community center for Sycamore residents.

If voters approve the referendum, it would allow for a property tax rate increase of 18 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value. The increase would cost the owner of a $154,000 home who claims the homestead exemption about $81 a year in additional property tax. Park officials said $154,000 is the average home value in the district.

“At the end of the day the public will decide whether they want to do this or not,” said park board President Ted Strack. “As I’ve stated many times, whatever they direct us to do is fine with me. It’s their money, not ours. I think it’s good for the community. I think there’s been prior generations that have made similar decisions that have left a real legacy. If the people in 1923 hadn’t built our golf course, how different would our community be?”

All of the proposed projects are estimated to cost about $13 million, and park officials also have been seeking private donations and applying for federal and state grants to fund some of their plans.

There are seven projects laid out in Vision 2020: a community center, sled hill, dog park, splash pad, trail connections, sports complex improvements and expansions, and replacing the failing golf course irrigation system.

Dan Gibble, park district executive director, reiterated that the pool is not included in the Vision 2020 plan.

Strack said pools are extremely expensive items, and after community surveys, the top two items of interest were trails and a community center.

“To spend millions of dollars on a facility that’s open from Memorial Day to Labor Day is a real difficult challenge,” Gibble said. “When citizens, elected to represent their taxpayers, are asked to make decision about how to appropriately allocate funds, if you want to spend $5 million on a pool or $5 million on a community center, one’s open three months and the other is open 12 months. The math becomes pretty obvious pretty quick.”

Learn more

For more information about the Vision 2020 plan, visit To see a short video explaining the Vision 2020 plan, visit

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