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Tight budgets key in Blackhawk Center pact

Park district official: Consider transferring ownership to schools

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Shaw News Service)
The Blackhawk Center, which was completed in 1997, is owned by the park district and was built to meet the school district’s needs. It’s attached to Oregon High School by a corridor. Under a 3-year intergovernmental agency agreement, which will expire Aug. 31, the park district manages and staffs the Blackhawk Center, and the school district pays rent as the primary user.

OREGON – The BHC, which was completed in 1997, is owned by the park district and was built to meet the school district’s needs. It’s attached to Oregon High School by a corridor.

Under a 3-year intergovernmental agency agreement, which will expire Aug. 31, the park district manages and staffs the Blackhawk Center, and the school district pays rent as the primary user.

High school physical education classes and athletic practices and events, including tournaments, are held at the BHC. Some park district events also are held there.

Both school Superintendent Tom Mahoney and park district Executive Director Erin Folk said Tuesday that negotiations are in the very early stages and probably won’t be finalized until August.

“It may change; it may not,” Folk said of the contract.

Shrinking revenue is an issue facing both districts.

The $168,000 the school district pays each year in rent covers only 70 percent of the $235,000 operating expenses.

At a committee meeting in late March, park district board members discussed their concern that revenues would decrease if the assessed value of Exelon’s Byron Generating Station was reduced.

The power plant’s officials have filed appeals of the 2012 and 2013 assessments with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. 

According to the committee meeting minutes, Folk said the park district needs to find ways to reduce costs at the BHC and might want to turn over ownership to the school district, because 90 percent of the facility’s use is for school functions.

Mahoney said he is sympathetic to the park district’s financial concerns, because the school district has its own problems with dwindling state aid and other state education funding.

“From my perspective, we need to look at all the options available to us. What is the challenge for us now is finances with what’s going on with the state,” Mahoney said. “I entirely understand their [the park district’s] position. We’re all in the same boat, though.”

The school and park districts entered into a 10-year intergovernmental agreement in September 1995. Over the years, that deal has been renewed and altered. It gives the school district priority use of the BHC, and the two districts work out annual schedules.

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