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Meeting About Brainerd Building Fate Monday Night

A meeting Monday is the first of three town hall style meetings to discuss the historic building's fate.

Judging by the comments below, Libertyville residents have strong opinions about what should be done with the Brainerd building. And the village wants to hear them.

The first of three town hall style meetings to discuss the fate of Libertyville's Brainerd building will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at the Libertyville Civic Center, according to the Libertyville Review.

On March 18, residents will get to formally cast their votes in a referendum that could result in the issuance of $11.5 million in bonds—and a 21.84 percent increase in the village's tax rate—to renovate the Brainerd building.
 
Should the referendum be approved, the village board would have the option to issue the bonds, which would be paid over a 10-year period. A portion of the bond proceeds would pay the $250,000 initial lease payment owed to Community High School District 128, along with the first two lease payments of $50,000 apiece, according to village board meeting documents. 

The referendum would cost the owner of a home valued at $300,000 an additional $141.98 per year in property taxes. 

marcus8182 February 05, 2014 at 11:55 PM
Form is supposed to follow function, but in this case, it seems that the function is "come up with a rationale for saving the Brainerd Building!", and the form is "uh....well, we can say we need a civic center...". The preservation needs are admirable, and it's a shame that there hasn't really been a more viable plan put forth for turning the old classroom space into useful public or business space, but the truth is that the village doesn't really need what this plan offers, and the revenue projections put forth are so completely unrealistic that they make me believe the backers are desperate to come up with whatever they think they need to say to make the voters believe that their dream is achievable. But it's not. Round Lake Civic Center was purpose built 5 or 6 years ago (and similar in use-design to this concept), and loses money. Lake Forest's civic center loses money. Metropolis in Arlington Heights brings in $3million a year in ticket sales, and still requires $150-250k from the village of AH to cover costs every year. District 128 owns the building, and it's really their problem to solve. But they've had 15 years to come up with a plan to repurpose it or tear it down (bearing the costs of asbestos removal themselves), and have failed to act. If they want to sell it to the Village for $1 and let us think about what to do with the space, that would be a different conversation, but for them to retain title while the village bears the renovation expenses is a non-starter. If the village wants a downtown multi-purpose performing arts/civic center space, on or adjacent to the restaurants and bars on Milwaukee Ave, then let's approach that issue without having to have the "historic preservation" angle infecting the conversation. But this plan is a preservation issue in search of an actual purpose, which is exactly the wrong way to approach the question.
Bonnie Quirke February 06, 2014 at 09:13 AM
All the figures are from the Brainerd Foundation committee the village has done no studies but gives these figures out as if they were completely vetted. The foundation could not raise the money now they want the taxpayer to do their work. The construction costs alone will/could be way over estimate not to mention who will rent space on a sustained level Certainly one way to gain support is to remind everyone of the "historic" bldg. Pull at the heartstrings of the voters,while the purse strings of the taxpayer are ignored.
Margaret McCarthy February 06, 2014 at 08:42 PM
Martina, No, the Civic Center does NOT want to move into the Brainerd building. Did you bother to read Joe Bean's explanation of how the banquet facilities would have to generate $1/2 million to produce the 10% commission resulting in the catering revenue of $59,000 a year? Please do. Because if it doesn't generate the income, the Village will have to reduce services further or raise fees again.
Margaret McCarthy February 06, 2014 at 08:44 PM
Martina, my apologies -- I read another of your comments and realize that you are actually against the Brainerd renovation. WHEW!
J.B.L. February 06, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Martina, thanks for the note--obviously you have been doing your research, and yes, the numbers have changed as the project has changed. Are you the same as you were years ago? What that post does show, though, is that the Brainerd group has been totally honest and transparent with what was believed to be accurate numbers all along. We have always encouraged the public to get involved and voice their opinions and concerns. I wish more public-minded people had come to a meeting then to give their ideas.
Bonnie Quirke February 07, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Hi All I find it quite interesting that the Brainerd Foundation was unable to raise the needed funds for renovation over the years. Now the taxpayer will need to come to the rescue one way or another. I have heard 3 professional construction men tell us that the project costs are unrealistic for an old Bldg, in other words more dollars will be needed. In addition the village has not vetted those projections but is leaving the decision to the taxpayer.The real question is do we need another "dream" center or do we not. There has been no reporting on who will rent on a regular basis to meet the cost of operation. Who will manage the place day to day. I am sure the needed professional will not come with a low salary requirement. These questions need to be answered in hard cold facts not "dreams"
Martina Golden February 07, 2014 at 01:04 PM
The cost projections have gone from free! to 2 million, then 6, then 12. The group barely had enough money to keep the roof from leaking after all their fundraising. I doubt much professional construction estimation has been donated to get a solid estimation on costs. The good news is it seems more like a geometric increase rather than an exponential increase. Do I hear 24 million? Reminds me of the process of the Russians building the ski jump for the Olympics.
L A Schart March 03, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Sorry, folks, if Brainerd is changed in any way that alters it's original purpose (ie a school or gymnasium), the building will LOSE its Historical designation. So, this isn't an issue of historical presrevation. It's a propert tax issue. A 22% tax increase. A $14.9 MILLION tax issue. A multi-million dollar property tax issue that we will be levying on our children, on our delapitated roads, our Ash Bore-infested trees, and our teachers' annual salaries. All of which won't be sustained if the citizens of Libertyville vote themselves into the financial black hole that is Brainerd. Having worked for nonprofit organizations most of my adult life, I can assure you that if the Brainerd committee couldn't raise enough money to save the building, they will not be able to raise enough money to sustain and maintain an annual operating budget or a talented and fully-dedicated staff. Ever. The Village is going to be saddled with millions of dollars in debt and liability IF we allow the $14.9 million property tax referendum to pass. Vote NO on Brainerd. #ItsaNOBrained. Twitter @ItsaNOBrainerd Lance A Schart Libertyville IL
joe bean March 03, 2014 at 08:09 PM
L A Schart is spot-on. Will someone from the other side of this property tax increase issue please tell us where he is wrong? Exactly where. Provide specifics. Hard numbers. Actual dollars committed by organizations that can put their money where their hopes are. Someone? Anyone? a few facts, please that dispute L.A. Schart's statements?
BLT March 03, 2014 at 08:19 PM
There are no facts, just a bunch of numbers with no substance. But, "the Brainerd group has been totally honest and transparent with what was believed to be accurate numbers all along"?? Give us a break - this whole process, from the last seven years to the referendum itself, is a total breakdown of public trust and transparency. A small clique of people, propelled by the village allowing the referendum, is shoving their fantasy down the throats of the taxpayers, regardless of the consequences to other vital services.
L A Schart March 04, 2014 at 10:14 AM
I was out in downtown Libertyville last night and only one person I spoke to (out of nine) supports keeping Brainerd. But, that one person does not own property (read pay taxes). One couple, who attended the last year of high school held in Brainerd said "tear it down"! They recently toured the school and said part of the building was flooded with sewage! Nice. The "Save Brainerd" mailings (who paid for these mailings, by the way, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit?) are apparently very effective, though. Everyone I spoke with last night had seen the full-color mailings and said they are very informative as to how little information is being given to voters, the lack of an operating plan, and how BAD an idea the Brainerd referendum is!
Martina Golden March 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM
If a BCC does come into existence, who is going to manage the facility? The mayor says the village has no interest in running it. I can't imagine anyone from the Civic Center will be very pleased after a forced relocation. Pay a professional manager a full time salary to pay the bills, schedule events, oversee operations, supervise, ensure maintenance, provide security.... Sounds expensive. It will be the Save Brainerd people who managed to put us into this situation that will have the day to day responsibilities of running a large facility. Imagine the overruns! At the end of the day, they will thank you for preserving a stack of bricks, and provide you with a facility that's very underused and very expensive year after year.
Brian L. March 04, 2014 at 11:45 AM
Just two things here, since people should know where I stand on this position if they have read the comments. First, you definitely can renovate (and alter) and work on a building that is on the historic registry and it would stay on the registry. The only time there might be more of an issue is if it is a federally funded landmark. That is why some of the other Libertyville buildings (like the Proctor building) are still on the list although they aren't the same thing they used to be. Also, unless your one person didn't live in the town, they certainly do pay those taxes. They may not directly receive the bill, but landlords pass those right down to the renters as an increase in their rent paid. There is no point in making things up or exaggerating when you all have a fairly strong case already.
Margaret McCarthy March 04, 2014 at 12:14 PM
Brian, renters can leave at the end of their lease. We who own property here can be allowed to worry about whether people will want to live in Libertyville if services decline and taxes continue to rise due to contined bad decisions by elected officials or voters. It could easily happen that Libertyville's good reputation as a place to live could change and then watch for property values to decline accordingly.
joe bean March 04, 2014 at 12:28 PM
check: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/regulations.htm#6015 and see: Sec. 60.15 Removing properties from the National Register. (a) Grounds for removing properties from the National Register are as follows: (1) The property has ceased to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register because the qualities which caused it to be originally listed have been lost or destroyed, or such qualities were lost subsequent to nomination and prior to listing; (2) Additional information shows that the property does not meet the National Register criteria for evaluation;
mdc7 March 04, 2014 at 01:03 PM
I need to reiterate a point I made earlier in this thread and on a related thread earlier today. First of all, I am not in favor of the referendum - I believe that the project is ill conceived and has the potential to have a negative impact on the village's finances going forward (similar to how we are saddled with paying off the Sports Complex bonds for the next 15+ years). However, the vocal folks on this thread and others that are against the proposal are either willfully misrepresenting the property tax increase the community will face, or simply don't understand how our property taxes are calculated. In big bold letters on the "itsanobrainerd" website it asks "Will you vote to increase your property taxes by more than 22%?". If you live in the village like I do, there are 18 different taxing bodies that contribute to our overall tax bill. The Village of Libertyville is just one of those line items. This is the portion that will be impacted if the referendum passed and the village board decided to follow through with the project. The village has absolutely nothing (zero) to do with teacher salaries as a previous poster implied. I encourage everyone to take a good look at your tax bill and understand where most of it is directed. On my bill, the Village (+ pension) is about 7.5% of the total. The 20% property tax increase that's being mentioned is just on the village portion. For my situation this will work out to about a 2% increase of my total bill. Not insignificant, but to keep things in perspective, 72% of my total tax bill goes to districts 70 & 128. If everyone is concerned about how much our property taxes have skyrocketed over the past 10 years - do yourself a favor and keep yourself informed about how all of the taxing bodies are spending our money. If you want to see a *real* 20-50% increase in our total tax bills, just wait until Springfield shifts the teacher pension costs onto the backs of local property tax payers...
Brian L. March 04, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Joe, that part you quoted doesn't really pertain here. It would still have to be re-evaluated and found to not meet their criteria, or be demolished. According to their rules and regs, it would still meet it since the outer facade would remain mostly in tact. They wouldn't be tearing down the building, just adding accessibility options to the outside. How would it not meet the prior criteria?
Brian L. March 04, 2014 at 01:54 PM
That is true Margaret, but to just imply a blanket statement saying that a person doesn't pay property taxes just because they don't own is wrong. For the duration of the lease the person is paying a portion (or all depending on the building) of the taxes levied on the property through his/her rent. Maybe no one would move in based on the extra 50 per month (yes I just pulled the number out of air, but that is 600 dollars a year extra) , but I doubt it. On top of that, this tax isn't replacing other taxes. It is not taking immediate tax revenue from other services. Yes, there might be circumstances in the future where other funds could get hurt, but that is being just as speculative as you all accuse the Brainerd group of being.
L A Schart March 04, 2014 at 02:15 PM
The individual in question does not rent or own. However, their vote could negatively impact their parent's propert tax. Is that better?
BLT March 04, 2014 at 02:23 PM
Too much focus on the tax increase percentage - it's the tip of the iceberg. Our taxes are way too much already, but the impact of the tax increase will be exceeded by the cost to village services out of general funds as this venture continues to lose money. The revenues are overstated, and the costs are understated. We will pay out of both pockets every year.
J.B.L. March 04, 2014 at 04:32 PM
To mdc7: Thank you for your sanity on this issue. I believe it's important to maintain a civil, logical, FACTUAL view, whichever side you are on. Mr. Bean seems to follow the idea that he can twist numbers and facts however he wants to make the idea of Brainerd appear unpalatable. Please, people, we are neighbors! Be civil, be kind, and above all, BE HONEST AND NOT DEVIOUS! The nobrainerd site is misleading and sneaky, and not worthy of a neighbor.
joe bean March 04, 2014 at 04:47 PM
I am absolutely and totally responsible for the content (other than that attributed to another person) on the site. Please tell me what is wrong, deceptive or misleading. Page and content, please.
mdc7 March 04, 2014 at 05:04 PM
Front Page of both of your pages you state: "Will you vote to increase your Real Estate Property Taxes by more than 22%?". This is misleading. If you wanted to be accurate you would have stated: "Will you vote to increase the Village portion of your Real Estate Property Taxes by more than 22%?", or: "Will you vote to increase your overall Real Estate Taxes by about 2%?" But neither of those sound quite as scary, do they?
J.B.L. March 04, 2014 at 05:08 PM
Mr. Bean--The very fact that your site makes it look like it is put up by Save Brainerd is purposely misleading.
joe bean March 04, 2014 at 05:10 PM
You're kidding, of course. Unless of course you think all websites look the same? I'm joe bean, by the way...and you are?
Brian L. March 04, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Yes Mr, Schart, that would clear up your original comment about that one person not yet, and possibly never, paying property taxes here. Whole lot easier saying the person in question lives with his/her parents.
J.B.L. March 04, 2014 at 07:00 PM
That would be a better defense if you didn't use the exact name of the Save Brainerd group ( only .com instead of .org). I'd call that intentionally misleading. And I am saddened by your virulence.
joe bean March 04, 2014 at 07:09 PM
and J B L...you are? other than saddened, I mean. :-))
VMP March 04, 2014 at 07:15 PM
My, my, my. So many posts during the working hour. Are you all retired or out of work? Either way, you don't need a tax increase for what ever reason.
Ellen Pomes March 04, 2014 at 07:28 PM
When information=virulence then I guess disagreement=treason. Most people in this village don't even know this is on the ballot, much less what percentage of the Libertyville budget this represents . But I guess that is transparency in somebody's book. Not mine. People need to know what they are voting for AND that they need to vote

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