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Park District plans referendum to expand tax boundaries

Revenue would pay for community center, capital projects


DIXON – The Park District plans to put a referendum on the March ballot asking voters to expand its tax boundaries to bring in revenue for the community center and future capital projects.

The Park District’s taxing boundaries currently mirror the city limits; the referendum looks to expand its footprint to the School District boundaries.

Most park districts match school district limits, district Executive Director Duane Long said Friday.

“We have created a strong team working with many different organizations to provide the kind of park district our community deserves,” Long said. “Now, we just need the resources that almost every other park district around us already has.”

They estimate bringing in $917,000 more a year if the referendum is successful, which likely would be enough to afford a bond payment to build a community center as well as extra that would pay for further park capital projects and infrastructure work, he said.

“While expanding the park district will allow us to create a community center, the expansion of the district is about improving the entire park district,” Long said. “In addition to a new community center, our expansion would also provide $200,000 in new monies to be used to maintain existing infrastructure and create new amenities in the district.”

It would allow the district to be more proactive with capital improvements, rather than waiting to see what they can afford with leftover maintenance and grounds funds each year.

To expand the boundaries, the referendum would need to be passed by those currently in the district and those who would be brought into the fold.

If the referendum passes by both groups of voters, those coming into the district would see a property tax increase of $150 for a $100,000 home.

“For only $12.50/month (per $100,000 of a household’s market property value), Dixonites living outside of city limits could dramatically improve the quality of life for every man, woman, and child in our great community, while increasing the odds that Dixon will be able to compete with surrounding communities well into the future,” Long said.

The Park Board plans to have a special meeting in early December to vote to put the question on the March 17 ballot.

In November 2017, the Park Board approved a resolution to develop a long-range district plan that includes putting a referendum on the ballot in 2020 to expand the boundaries.

Proposed amenities for the center, which will be built in Meadows Park, are a teen center, study area, cafe, park district administration office, two community rooms, a fitness center, basketball courts, indoor track, turf fields, and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool.

The proposed pool design would have a retractable roof and be open 10 months out of the year, Long said.

Cherry Valley based Ringland-Johnson Construction is doing the design work for the community center, and Long said an economic feasibility study is being done to determine the estimated costs. Results should be in around mid-December.

The Park District is heading the project and partnering with the School District, city and Dixon Family YMCA. The #Dixon Strong Leadership Team was created as a closed group of community leaders about a year ago to plan the basics of a community center and make recommendations to the Park District, as well as help with projects from the other organizations.

The Park District, School District, and Dixon Family YMCA did assessments to determine what would be needed in a community center and combined the results with community surveys put out online by the team.

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