Tolono Township rejects tax increase for roads

TOLONO — Voters in this southern Champaign County township have rejected a proposed 10-cent tax rate increase to help with road repair.

A total of 730 residents cast ballots Tuesday, with unofficial results indicating 445 "no" votes and 285 "yes" votes.

Tolono Township encompasses Tolono, south Savoy and northeast Sadorus. The township maintains 48 miles of road.

The township's road tax is 16 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

It wanted to raise the rate to 26 cents per $100.

A 10-cent tax rate increase would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the township about $25.23 per year more in property taxes.

"I'm disappointed," Tolono Township Highway Commissioner Brad Clemmons said. "We're not going to be able to expand our salting, and there are projects in the township we're not going to be able to get done as quickly."

Clemmons said he didn't understand why voters turned against the measure.

"I think we got the word out there good and tried to explain what we were wanting to do," he said.

Clemmons said the township will likely put a proposal on the ballot again in November.

"We don't have a joint bridge fund like most townships have," he said, noting that the account was eliminated in the 1990s. "That's money we've lost the whole time. I don't think we were out of line asking for what we were asking for."

Parks bonds OK'd. Voters approved a $500,000 bond proposal to develop and improve Tolono's parks by a margin of 337 to 178.

Clemmons said that after the first precinct was counted and the proposal was only being defeated by 43 votes, he still had hope.

"I thought maybe we can still get it," he said. "But I understand times are hard."

Park District President Randy Grace said the funds would be used for improvements like concession stands and bathrooms at both West Side Park and the new East Side Park, which is still under construction.

In 2011, the park district received an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help develop the 6.2 acres at the corner of Walnut and Central streets to create East Side Park.

When construction is complete, there will be two ball diamonds, a soccer field, a basketball court, walking paths all around the park, a park district administrative building, a concession stand and a shelter area.

The state paid for half of the cost of the $800,000 project through the matching grant.

The park district's annual budget is about $52,000.

"I'm very happy," Grace said. "I'm glad the Tolono people think a lot of the parks and want to upgrade them and don't mind paying a little extra for it."

Approving the bond will mean a rise in taxes of 12.57 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, property taxes will go up $34, while for a senior citizen, it would be $28 or $29, according to Grace.

"I think they know the park needs it," he said. "We've not been able to make upgrades to West Side Park for years and years. We've just been getting by. They know we have a plan."

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casegirl wrote on March 19, 2014 at 7:03 am

I am sorry that the Tolono town and township did not pass this tax increase for our roads. These roads are used everyday. People don't stop and think about what the money is used for. This money is for salt, fixing pot holes and so on. Next time you slide through a stop sign in the winter or hit a hole and cuss about it, don't blame your township!!!!

Stings600 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Anyone who read the ballot and could gather from it that the increase was to be used for salting the roads in winter is a lot smarter than this voter. Had I known that was what it was for, I would have voted YES in a heart beat.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

People voted for recreation, but not for transportation safety.   I was, also, surprised by the number of communities which voted against school tax referendums.  Evidently, people maintain hope that the state will bail them out with transportation, and education funding.  I suppose the election outcomes on referendums reflect the local voters priorities.

Stings600 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Would it be so radical for the village to start doing a little recruiting to bring businesses to the area that could help shoulder some of the tax burden for projects through municipal sales tax revenue? The community is in desperate need of a chain grocery store (ie-County Market) that would not only bring in tax revenue but provide employment for the area. Comparing Tolono to the other "suburbs" of C-U like St. Joseph and Mahomet and one finds that the area, generally speaking, is an eyesore and does little to attract any spending. SR45 is busy and could easily support a McDonald's, which would also provide employment and needed tax revenue. Residents of bedroom communities can only support so much. Additionally, I grew up in Gibson City (which incidentally has a population lower than that of Tolono as of last census). They continue to support (successfully) a McDonald's, a County Market, a Subway, a Monical's, a Pizza Hut, a German restaurant, a Dairy Queen, a Chinese restaurant, and a golf course with an excellent club house restaurant.

I currently live in Tolono and am very politically active and heard nothing about either ballot initiative. I phoned Town Hall, who directed me to the Park District's answering machine. Eventually I was able to find out a little about the park district's initiative through their Facebook page. The word was not "out." At least not in my neighborhood.
Tolono, we can do better.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I agree with you regarding villages, and businesses.  However, the defining thing is distance from the metropolitan big box stores.  Tolono is close to Champaign with a good road.  Tolono does have an abundance of bars compared to other villages though.   

Stings600 wrote on March 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm

As long as Tolono residents have nowhere to grocery shop except for Walmart in Savoy and nowhere to dine out save for a scant number of small "restaurants," we will continue to have to funnel our dollars and tax revenues into Savoy and Champaign. We need a revitalization and less milking of the citizen. A high number of bars is not a reason to travel here and spend money.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 19, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I live outside of C-U also.  Mahomet, and St. Joe are adjacent to the interstate; and it gives them a boost economically.  Villa Grove is far enough from C-U, and Tuscola to support local businesses.  For the rest of us, it is just like Tolono's growth problem if not worse. 

Although, there is something to be said about living in a village.  Crime is much more rare.  The schools are good, and safe.  Neighbors help each other; and people seem to be more respectful of each other.  I lived in C-U for close to 30 years.  I like village life much better.  The hassle is the procession to C-U in the morning, and evening during the winter.  Good roads, and good schools cost; but they do increase property values for resale later.   

casegirl wrote on March 20, 2014 at 7:03 am

The whole point is people did not read what the question ask, now the township road crew has to suffer for people ignorance. I hope if this question comes up again in November and I am sure it will people will vote YES.