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Village to Ask Voters Whether They Support Brainerd Building Bonds

The referendum question will be on the March 18, 2014 ballot.

Brainerd Building. Photo credit: Patch file.
Brainerd Building. Photo credit: Patch file.
Libertyville trustees agreed Tuesday night to take to voters a referendum question 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 March 18, 2014, 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. 

Trustees discussed the referendum at length at Tuesday's meeting.
 
Trustee Donna Johnson questioned the $11.5 million and whether that number is realistic "and not something that we later find was off the mark."

Mayor Terry Weppler said the Brainerd committee, along with others, spent a lot of time investigating the numbers. All agreed that the numbers are accurate, Weppler said.

"I believe that, yes, they are about as good a number as we're going to obtain," said Weppler.

Trustee Drew Cullum, however, said the overall number has changed many times, starting at about $3 million at one point, then $6 million and now $11.5 million. He added that the board has yet to be presented with a detailed, documented business plan. 

He voted against putting the referendum on the ballot. Cullum said he is "extremely disappointed with the lack of detail" and noted that "this ordinance tonight is not in any way an endorsement from the village board."

Trustees agreed that they need to hear from residents.

"Whether you're for or against it, we need to hear from residents," said Trustee Todd Gaines. 

Informational town hall meetings will be held Feb. 2, Feb. 12 and March 4, 2014.

What do you think should be done? Do you plan to vote in favor of—or against—the bond issue? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
drg1962 December 12, 2013 at 03:49 PM
No Brainerd! It's a no brainer!
BLT December 12, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Why would the taxpayers spend over $10M for the building? If it will be used by businesses, why are they not sharing in the funding, similar to the Rickett's remodeling of Wrigley Field? If there is a business plan showing revenues from business and/or civic use, how are the "planned" revenues guaranteed in writing? It is hard to see how this will not be a continual and growing burden to the taxpayers for many years to come.
Sue December 12, 2013 at 07:41 PM
If the taxpayers approve the referendum and the $11.5 million renovation estimate is a low number (which I am pretty sure it will be) then how are the additional funds going to be paid? With another tax increase? I will be voting NO
AnneMarie Brandt December 13, 2013 at 08:09 AM
I will not vote for this. It is fiscally irresponsible to go ahead with this without a business plan. Have the members of the Board forgot what happened with the Sports Complex?
jan December 13, 2013 at 09:25 AM
Saving that building is something of an unusual attachment for those who grew up in Libertyville and attended that school. It doesn't make sense to the rest of us and I will be voting No.
Susan December 13, 2013 at 09:58 AM
While I agree with all the comments above, I have very serious concerns about what will replace the Brainerd Building if it has to go. At this point, I don't know which way I will be voting. Either way, I could have regrets.
drg1962 December 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM
My grandfather wants to vote to save Brainerd, but then again my grandfather invested in Enron, picked Beta over VHS and insists that the internet is just a fad.
Bonnie Quirke December 13, 2013 at 01:22 PM
No plan, no vote. I am still paying for the Sport Complex.
Susan December 13, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I would agree that there definitely needs to be a plan. Actually there need to be two plans: one for if the building stays and one for if it is razed.
Margaret McCarthy December 13, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Who exactly is going to pay to use the building? One of the problems with the Sports Center is that they built meeting rooms, but charge so much for one hour that it's prohibitive for small groups, like book clubs, or Bible Studies, etc. Larger businesses usually have the capability of having meetings on site. We already have many redundant institutions offering classes and programs, there are meeting facilities at local churches, the Civic Center; I don't think we need this White Elephant. Time to raze it in my opinion. Or let private citizens restore it -- isn't that what promoters were willing to do originally? Now they want all of us to chip in even though most citizens will never use it.
BLT December 13, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Any plan can promise anything - whatever plan is submitted needs to carry guarantees to protect the taxpayers.
Thomas F. Willer December 13, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Tom, I strongly oppose funding this white elephant. Cook Library perfomed due diligence when it sought a new location. It determine that the Brainard building was structurally unsound. Additionally, the basement is frightfully covered with dangerous mold. The Civic Center meets current needs. The other white elephant, Sports Complex, also has unused meeting rooms that no one uses. This is the wrong way to raise our taxes.
betischendorf December 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM
I agree this is a white elephant that I do not want to fund when the renters don't come through. There is abundant space in this community for meetings, concerts, etc. This is a huge percentage tax increase that is not needed. The challenge now is to get the word out, Vote NO on Brainerd so this does not pass!
Powers Molinar December 15, 2013 at 07:54 AM
That's a big jump in real estate taxes. No way!
Vera Pergl-Butkovich December 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM
This is another case of a very small portion of the population pursuing unrealistic plans and/or dreams, and wanting the entirety of the population to foot the bill. This bill doesn't end with the millions required to renovate the building; it will continue with the ongoing expense of operating it. I agree with the previous comments regarding revenues - what assurances will be in place to see that the citizens will not be further burdened with the expense of a building that truly has no architectural or historical significance? This would compound the already under-utilized spaces at the athletic complex.This property would be put to better use as a small park and playground that can be used by everyone, not just a few. Additionally, the parking setup will make it difficult for out senior residents to utilize the building.
marcus8182 December 15, 2013 at 01:25 PM
The county already has the Genesee Theater and the Lumber Center at CLC as performing arts venues, and neither of them are selling out on a regular basis. So the rationale for building another performing arts center is...what, exactly? It would make much more sense to have a one-time charge for the cost of asbestos removal in the building (about $400k), then look for tenants to lease the space in the building. IF they can't find enough tenants to at least pay for the cost of maintaining the building, then the market will have spoken, and demolition with an eye toward repurposing the plot as residential would make the most sense. It's not well-suited as commercial space, and selling the space to a developer would allow the residents to recoup the demolition expenses while making the space useful. At this point, the building is in such disrepair that it's really not worth the effort to try and rescue it. Sentimental value is the worst rationale for sinking that kind of money into the project.
cmeller December 15, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I don't know which way I'll vote. While I don't want to pay $200 more on my taxes per year it might be worth it if it provided libertyville with some useful resources. Libertyville is too great of a town to just make every decision just on cutting costs at all expense. I realize that the sports complex is a money loser but it's still a great resource for families in out community and I think it's a great investment for the village. However, if there is no concrete plan for the old high school than it needs to be razed and hopefully a youth athletic park can be build. I would rather have that than a private nursing home or apartment complex.
Mary Cramer December 16, 2013 at 08:15 AM
The Village officials have worked hard to run the city with good/realistic budgets over the past few years.....Thank you. It is very surprising they would approve this measure without seeing and questioning the business plan for this community center. Key questions......what community service is being added with this new community center, what occupancy rates and fees are assumed (compared to the existing Civic Center), and is this another white elephant that pulls even more business away from the Libertyville Sports Complex? Is the "high school lover" in charge of this personal campaign going to run the renovated complex........I hope not, it will be a financial mess for many years. Basically Libertyville missed the only real opportunity to utilize Brainerd when they spent $10+ million slightly expanding the library.......while Brainerd is sitting 2 blocks away and empty.
Gil Williams December 26, 2013 at 09:58 AM
Can anyone tell me where I can get a copy of the business/financial plan? Is there an organized group that is opposing these tax funded loans for Brainerd?
Vera Pergl-Butkovich December 26, 2013 at 01:23 PM
I believe you can get a copy of the business/financial plan by calling Village Hall. At this time there is no organized committee to oppose this folly, but one needs to be created ASAP. Please contact me on my facebook page.
joe bean December 30, 2013 at 03:36 PM
cannot find your Facebook page...please advise
Vera Pergl-Butkovich December 30, 2013 at 03:44 PM
contact me at rscume5@aol.com
Brian L. January 01, 2014 at 10:55 PM
I could be mistaken, but I believe it has been stated in the past that if this falls through the building will be razed for more parking for students and an update to the practice football field located on the property. If that is the case, we as residents will still fit the bill, correct?
Margaret McCarthy January 02, 2014 at 09:03 AM
The property belongs to Dist. 128, it is leased to the village. Of course, as the same taxpayers, we will continue to be responsible for the property unless it is sold to a private party. However, razing the building and turning it into parking and/or football field (for which it still is used) would be WAY less expensive than renovating a decrepit building and the maintenance and costs of employees, etc.
joe bean January 02, 2014 at 10:34 AM
In reference to Mr. William's comments and Ms. Pergi-Butkovich's statement, I am doing some research to gather detailed information about the "plan" and its related financial implications with the intention of organizing an informed effort to defeat the referendum. Please contact me on my facebook page for details. Thanks...Joe Bean
Brian L. January 03, 2014 at 12:41 PM
That is true Margaret, I was just making the note to clarify for some of the other commenters that it will not be used for community parks or recreation areas.

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