Brainerd Referendum to be Delayed Until March 2014

Brainerd Community Center Inc. representatives said they decided to delay the referendum to allow more time to educate residents.

Brainerd Community Center Inc. members announced their plan Tuesday night to delay a bond referendum that would help fund various projects, like fixing the roof and doors.

The binding referendum is expected to be placed on the March 2014 ballot.

The announcement came just as the village board was preparing to vote Jan. 22 on whether to place a . A non-binding referendum would solely be advisory in nature.

"I think you managed to surprise me this evening," said Mayor Terry Weppler at the village board's Jan. 8 meeting.

The Brainerd Community Center Inc. wants to ask voters to approve the sale of $6.5 million in bonds. The financial impact to residents would be about $71 per year over a 10-year period on a $300,000 home and $95 per year on a $400,000 home.

That figure is up $3 million from the original plan to ask for $3.5 million in bonds following a reassessment of the numbers. The funds would cover continued renovations, design fees and other costs.

Though the original plan was to place the referendum on the April 9, 2013 ballot, Brainerd committee member John Snow said having more time to educate residents is important. He added that having an advisory referendum this year followed by a binding referendum in 2014 could be too confusing.

"One binding referendum would be the best," said Brainerd committee member Scott Adams.

Trustees supported that plan. Trustee Donna Johnson said her vote would be to do the one-time binding referendum and allow more time to educate the public. Trustees Drew Cullum, Richard Moras, Todd Gaines and Jay Justice agreed, while Trustee James Moran didn't participate in his discussion due to his involvement with the Brainerd organization.

Weppler warned that due to the rising construction costs, the planned $6.5 million bond amount "could be a moving target."

Questions Raised

Prior to the announcement that the Brainerd organization would rather place a single, binding referendum on the ballot in 2014, Weppler and the trustees had a lengthy discussion regarding their concerns about the project. Among their concerns were the expected operating costs and whether the Brainerd Community Center could sustain itself without village assistance, whether there would be competition with the Libertyville Civic Center, and whether there would be enough time to properly educate residents between now and April 9 had the referendum been placed on that ballot at that time.

Trustees had just received the revised financial information a short time before their meeting Tuesday night.

"You're opening up more questions than you have answers," said Cullum. "The residents of the village are your bank, and no banker in their right mind would lend $6.5 million based on two pieces of paper. I think we need more time."

Moras expressed concern that the voter turnout for the referendum would be low in April because there wouldn't be enough time to educate everyone.

Now there will be more than a year to educate residents with the referendum not being placed on the ballot until March 2014.

Johnson said she wants to ensure someone sets up a timeline for educating people is set up, and that someone manages that timeline.

drg1962 January 10, 2013 at 04:12 PM
As a life long resident and former student of Brainerd enough is enough. I do not need to have any additional "education" about what is needed for this building. It will take millions to make it usable and millions to maintain it, certainly more than the 6.5 million that is being quoted above. This village has centralized our police/fire dispatch center to save money and are right now trying to sell Bolander to save money. Those are in addition to many, many budget cuts in all of our village services, police, fire, public works etc. There is also the ongoing issue of the Sports Complex that is draining the village reserves more and more each year. That facility, even though it seems to be fully utilized, still cannot make enough money to cover the bond issue that was needed to build it. The Brainard building is already structurally unsound and is an accident waiting to happen, especially with the various tours that go on during the year. While I can understand some people's need to save historical buildings the time for that has long passed in this case.
j daniel January 10, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Couldnt agree more... drg1962 said it all. There is no logic or use that would support putting another dime into that buidling. Its history has been exaggerated and I think it's quite wrong to even inquire about bonds to fund this special ineterest project, which is really what it is... level it and sell a few of the bricks to those historians.
Brian L. January 10, 2013 at 05:40 PM
If it is demolished and used for whatever the school wants to use it as, I would assume parking lots for d128 and the athletic field, wouldn't we be paying for that as well? I ask because I really don't know. It is a publicly funded school so wouldn't the costs incurred for the lot be put right onto us anyway? Disclaimer here is that I am for keeping the building up and using at as the proposed community center, but I am curious about my previous question.
Margaret McCarthy January 11, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I too agree with all of drg1962's comments. We don't need another $6.3 million bond issue (which will be even higher by the time it goes for a vote). There is plenty of meeting space in the community already. If more is needed, why are we selling the Bolander building? The Brainerd building has nostalgic significance for a vocal minority of residents. Maybe putting it to a vote will end the foolishness, if the village board is wise enough to act on the public's response.
Jill Harkaway January 11, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Brian, it is my understanding that whatever the fate of the building the cost will be upon the residents. The first in a series of videos has been released on YouTube talking about the building and the community center concept. People who are interested can subscribe to the BrainerdLibertyville TouTube channel to hear how performance groups are interested in utilitizing the building.There are creative ideas for businesses to use the building, bringing jobs to town. The building structure is sound and is an excellent candidate for sustainability. View the first segment at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwDcK8ihXps


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