911 surcharge referendum defeated already? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|911 surcharge referendum defeated already?|
|County rejects Oswego, Yorkville request to take request off ballot|
|by Matt Schury|
A referendum that would increase the amount of revenue received by KenCom, Kendall County's 911 telephone system, will remain on the Nov. 6 ballot, despite efforts from officials in three municipalities to have it removed.
If voters approved the referendum, the surcharge county residents pay on their monthly landline telephone bills to KenCom would increase from 75 cents to $1.50 per line.
The Kendall County Board voted last year to place the referendum on the ballot twice. However, voters rejected the referendum question in the March primary election by a wide margin with 70 percent of voting against raising the fee.
The referendum states:
"Shall the County of Kendall impose an additional surcharge of up to $0.75 per month per network connection to the existing $0.75 surcharge (total not to exceed $1.50 per month) which surcharge will be added to the monthly bill you receive for telephone or telecommunications charges, for the purpose of improving a 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System?"
Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq and Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski both sent letters to County Chairman John Purcell requesting the referendum be taken off the fall ballot. Plano Mayor Bob Hausler said he supports the efforts of Golinski and LeClercq.
The identical letters the two municipalities sent are dated Aug. 9 and request "that the proposed 911 funding referendum be place on the April 9, 2013 ballot instead of the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot." The letters also say that the extra time will allow for more review of the issue "to determine the appropriate level of funding required."
Purcell says he had been contacted by LeClercq about removing the referendum but said the County Board would have to hold a special meeting before the ballot is certified.
County Clerk Debbie Gillette confirmed that she has to certify the ballot with the state by Aug. 30. The next County Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 4.
"I'm not going to call a special meeting to pull something off the ballot that the municipalities have pushed for for a couple of years," Purcell said.
Purcell has been vocal about not supporting the referendum and even said before the March election that he would not a vote in favor of it.
"I wasn't in favor of the referendum to begin with I didn't vote for it last time and I won't encourage people to vote for it this time. It's absolutely in my mind unnecessary at this point," he said. "But that was part of our squabble over the last couple of years with the municipalities regarding the KenCom operations-one of the points was that we would put a referendum on the ballot two times as part of our intergovernmental agreement. I wish people would make up their minds what they want but I don't think it's necessary."
Purcell said that he has heard there is concern the referendum will fail.
"Yeah, people are angry about their taxes. Of course, it's going to fail. What do we do-we pick and choose the time to pass a tax, to slap a tax on until we get the right voters out?" he said.
Adding the referendum to the ballot twice was part of the cost sharing agreement the county, KenCom and the other governmental entities that use the 911 service signed last year.
LeClercq says he's not surprised that Purcell is not going to call a special meeting.
"There's no sense of urgency on the board's part," he said. "Nothing surprises me right now about the county."
He says he wants to move the question to the spring ballot because the time is not right to ask people for the increase.
"I don't think it's a good time," he said. "I just don't see people supporting it at this time and I don't see anyone from the County Board helping to support it."
He added that to have the referendum pass, they have to educate people about the benefits of increasing the 911 fee. Without the time to educate people, LeClercq says he doesn't see it passing in November.
"Get people together to actually work on an education campaign," he said. "People have to have a reason to support something and if they don't have a reason to support something then they are going to vote against it."
Purcell said that the increase in the surcharge amounts to a tax increase for the entire county.
"If Oswego feels that taxes need to be raised, they can raise their own taxes," he said. "If they don't feel they have enough, they should raise their own taxes and not ask the whole county to pay."
Purcell also says he feels the tax isn't fair as it would tax landlines but not cell phone users.
LeClercq said it could be called a tax increase but it is a bit of a misnomer
"If your cable TV goes up do you call that a tax?" LeClercq said. "Secondly I don't see the County Board openly supporting it."
Plano Mayor Hausler says he understands why LeClercq wants the referendum to be taken off the fall ballot.
"I think it's an excellent idea I don't think the voters are behind anything that's going to raise their cost," he said. "Let's face it, the 911 system is for everyone and I just think that the addition to the surcharge would be a more equitable way of distributing the additional costs then just passing it on to the municipalities."