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Official talks referendum meant to resurface roads in Blackberry Township

Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 4:26 p.m. CDT

BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Residents of Blackberry Township had a chance to learn about a township road district referendum Thursday that would nearly double the taxes they pay to the township’s road district if it passes next month.

The April 9 referendum will ask residents 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. The Blackberry Township Road District has operated under the same 16.5 cent tax levy for more than 35 years without an increase, according to meeting documents.

Highway Commissioner Rod Feece said the referendum would help change the road resurfacing schedule from once every half a century to once every eight to 10 years. Two road district referendums failed to pass by narrow margins in 2003 and 2004, he said.

Feece said about 95 percent of the township’s road district budget comes from property taxes. He said about 1.9 percent of a resident’s tax bill goes toward the township. A person with a home worth $300,000 would pay about $140 more a year more in taxes if the referendum passes.

“Most people probably spend that on plowing their driveway every year,” he said.

Residents wouldn’t see the change reflected in their tax bills until April 2014, Feece added. The township is responsible for maintaining 58 miles of roadway.

Should the referendum pass, Feece said referendum funds would not be used to purchase equipment, hire personnel or make any salary adjustments.

Feece said the township has applied for grants in the past and secured funds for a building and a bridge, but hasn’t secured a grant for blacktopping roads.

“If this doesn’t pass this time, there’ll be some great deterioration of the roads to a point where I don’t know what we’ll do,” he said.

The next opportunity to hold a referendum would be in April 2014.

Thursday’s meeting was the second held this week about the referendum, and Feece said he plans to talk about it again at Monday’s Elburn Village Board meeting.

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