Fox Valley Park District regroups after voters reject tax increase

By Erika Wurst for Chronicle Media

The Fox Valley Park Park District saw voters reject a proposed 7-cent tax rate increase for maintenance and upkeep of its parks and facilities. It would have been the third tax rate increase for the district in 16 years. (Photo courtesy of FVPD)

Voters from Aurora, North Aurora and parts of Montgomery failed to approve a 7-cent tax increase that would help fund maintenance and operations for the growing Fox Valley Park District.

On Election Day, residents voted to deny the park district’s 2018 referendum.

Unofficial results show that 12,916 (64.6 percent) voted against a tax hike to be used for maintenance and operating costs, while 7,079 (35.4 percent) voted for the measure.

“We’re a little bummed,” said FVPD Public Relations Manager Jeff Long. “We’re not used to these kinds of results.”

Voters approved FVPD tax increases in both 2002 and 2008. The extra revenue helped build the Vaughan Athletic Center and the Stuart Sports Complex.

Long admits that the idea of expanding the park district’s amenities was a key factor to getting voters on board with both referendums.

“This one was very different. This was about maintenance and operations. There weren’t as many shiny objects and we knew it would be hard. It was a bigger challenge than the other two.”

The 7-cent increase FVPD was asking for would have resulted in an extra tax of $36 – or $3 per month – for the owner of a $175,000 home, the median home value in Aurora.

Jeff Long

To the park district, that money would go a long way, Long lamented.

The build-up of park district properties since 2008 means upkeep has increased immensely.

“While amenities have grown and our assets have grown, our operations budget has remained flat,” Long said. “For the last six years we didn’t levy for a tax increase and we didn’t have incoming money.”

Now, that issue could come back to haunt them.

Decisions regarding maintenance and operational reductions will have to go through the park board for approval, but Long said residents could expect a few specific changes. The Vaughan Athletic Center hours could be cut, and mowing will occur less frequently.

“As far as going to the park and seeing it full of knee-high weeds, that’s not going to happen,” Long said. The park district should be able to function properly for at least the next year.

“Hopefully the public won’t notice the changes. Our budget for this coming year is in place and we should be okay,” he said.

The board is expected to re-evaluate user fees, including adminission to Blackberry Farm and program registration costs.

“As time goes on, it’s going to get more challenging and we need to re-evaluate our options,” Long said.





— Fox Valley Park District regroups after voters reject tax increase —