After a slow count of the village’s 12 precincts, the Cook County Clerk’s office reported nearly a 10 point margin of victory for the Forest Park Public Library referendum.
The library’s request for a four-year increase to the limiting rate of the village’s property tax rate was approved by a count of 2,030 to 1,662. Voters cast their ballots on Nov. 7, however, controversies surrounding the county elections slowed the reporting of returns for other ballot questions.
The morning after the Nov. 7 election, 25 percent of the votes were left to be counted with only nine of the 12 precincts reporting, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Web site. At that time, support for the referendum maintained a slim margin of 1,372 to 1,191.
On the following day the clerk’s Web site reported 10 of the 12 precincts were counted, and support for the measure appeared to be growing. Opponents of the referendum were outnumbered by a count of 1,344 to 1,561 in favor.
Library Director Rodger Brayden was unavailable for comment this week, but said immediately after Tuesday’s election that if the margin of victory remained at 6 or 7 percentage points, supporters had no reason to be bashful.
“Certainly if we win by that margin there’s nothing to apologize for, but it’s not a landslide,” Brayden said.
Board President Andrea Blaylock said she was pleased with the results and had every confidence the voters would support the request. Library patrons can expect to see gradual changes, Blaylock said, and this may begin soon in anticipation of the additional funding.
“This is the best course of action for the library,” Blaylock said. “It’s been needed for a long time.”
Voters turned out to the polls for the 2006 mid-term elections in respectable numbers Tuesday to weigh in on the referendum and several national and state races. Aside from the library referendum, Forest Park voters were also drawn to the polls by the governor’s race, contests for the Cook County Board of Commissioners and several congressional races.
Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz estimated a 44 percent participation rate, based on early returns. Of Forest Park’s 7,900 registered voters, 3,692 ballots were counted on the referendum question, giving the village a voter turnout rate of almost 47 percent.
“That’s pretty good considering we didn’t have any hot local issues,” Moritz said.
In the November 2004 presidential election, more than 79 percent of Forest Park voters went to the polls, and in the 2002 election roughly 50 percent turned out, Moritz said.
The library referendum asked voters to approve an increase in the limiting rate of the overall property tax rate in Forest Park. This would fix that portion of the property tax rate for the next four years, regardless of fluctuations in property value.
Brayden has estimated the library will receive an additional $500,000 in tax revenue during each of the four years.
With the referendum, the library’s budget will swell from roughly $700,000 to $1.2 million in a single year. That increase should maintain itself each year until 2009, depending on property values. In 2009, the library’s property tax income would again be regulated by the state’s tax cap system, which limits rate increases to the lesser of 5 percent or the consumer price index.
The requested increase of .15 percent means that a home valued at $100,000 would be taxed $143 under the new limiting rate of .346 percent. For a $200,000 home the taxes for the limiting rate would be an estimated $285.