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Referendum will seek funds for Blackberry Township roads

When Blackberry Township voters hit the polls in April, they’ll be asked to nearly double the taxes they pay to the township’s road district for road maintenance.

The April 9 referendum will include a question on whether to approve raising the limiting tax rate for the township road district from 16.5 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation to 30.26 cents.

Highway Commissioner Rodney Feece said he knows the economy hasn’t been the greatest and it still isn’t, but he said he has to try something.

“If I do not somehow create some revenue here, our roads are going to start crumbling,” he said.

Similar referendums were “narrowly defeated” in 2003 and 2004, Feece said.

In 2012, Blackberry Township’s Highway Department collected $843,290 through property taxes. By law, they were required to give $142,840 to the villages of North Aurora and Elburn for the roads that lie in those villages. This left Feece with $698,601 to run his entire department, including roadwork, plowing services and payroll. Blackberry Township is responsible for 58 miles of roads.

With its current budget, Blackberry Township has been able to resurface between a mile and 1.5 miles per year, at a cost of about $100,000 per mile.

“[We’re] starting to see a lot of deterioration to the roads,” Feece said. “... We’re just going to get further and further behind.”

If the referendum is passed, the department would go from an $843,290 budget to nearly $1.6 million, less the amount due to North Aurora and Elburn, netting them about $1.3 million. Feece said in order to keep up with deterioration, between 4 and 4.5 miles of roadwork need to be completed per year, something he sees as feasible with these additional funds.

For taxpayers, the implications of passing the referendum would mean that for every $100,000 their home is valued, they would pay an additional $46.67. A homeowner with a $300,000 home would pay about $140 more per year.

Feece said the department has tried other avenues to increase revenue for roadwork, like applying for grants, but have so far been unsuccessful. If the referendum is not passed, the department will “just continue to do the best we can,” Feece said. “But there will be a lot of patchwork instead of doing the whole road.”

Two meetings are scheduled to provide residents with information and answer questions. They are 7 p.m. March 11 at Rejoice Lutheran Church, 0N377 N Mill Creek Drive, Geneva, and 7 p.m. March 14 at Township Hall, 43W390 Main St., Elburn.

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