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Referendums ready for November voters

Brett Hoffman lifts weights Yorkville Rec Center earlier this year. Yorkville residents will be asked November referendum whether they want

Brett Hoffman lifts weights at the Yorkville Rec Center earlier this year. Yorkville residents will be asked in a November referendum whether they want to purchase the Rec Center by making payments not to exceed $2.5 million over the next 20 years. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 6, 2012 5:30PM

On Nov. 6, voters will get a chance to weigh in on new libraries, rec centers and even some Constitutional amendments. Last week was the deadline for all referendums to be certified for the fall election.

In every county in Illinois, residents will be asked whether the state Constitution should be amended to require a three-fifths majority to pass bills that affect a public pension or retirement system. Currently, the state Constitution allows for a simple majority to approve any changes.

Proponents of the statewide referendum say it would help prevent future unfunded liabilities from increased pensions, while demanding greater accountability from lawmakers. The Illinois Education Association is among the groups opposing the referendum, saying it could result in costly litigation and make it more difficult for the state to attract good candidates to government jobs, including teaching.

Voters in several municipalities will also be asked whether their governing body should purchase electricity through a competitive bidding process from a supplier other than ComEd. The electricity aggregation issue arose after Illinois completed the process of deregulating the state’s power industry in January 2010, allowing municipalities to shop for the electricity for their residents and small businesses. (A small business is characterized as a business that uses 100 kilowatts or less.)

Hundreds of other towns and counties have previously had the issue on the ballot. In November, voters in Sandwich, unincorporated DuPage County and Aurora Township will get to weigh in.

Other referendums on the November ballot include:

DuPage County

DuPage County residents will face a non-binding question asking whether Illinois law should permit an individual to hold two or more elected offices simultaneously. DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin believes elected officials should not be permitted to spread themselves too thin. At Cronin’s request, State’s Attorney Bob Berlin issued an opinion earlier this year that said County Board members should not occupy elected positions with other units of government that have contractual obligations to the county.

Kane County

In Kane County, voters will be asked to weigh in on whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to limit the use of corporate money, special interests and private money on political activity, including elections. The advisory question is similar to other referendums elsewhere since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which increased the ability of corporations to fund political advertising.

Campton Hills voters will once again have three issues on the ballot, including whether the village clerk should be elected rather than appointed. There will also be advisory questions about whether the village should allow video gaming and whether the village should purchase emergency or tornado sirens.

Kendall County

For the second time, Kendall County will be asking residents whether they support a 75-cent surcharge on the telephone bill to improve 911 systems. The resolution failed in March and some Kendall County towns had considered asking the county to delay putting it on the ballot for a second time.

An anti-tax group was able to get a non-binding question on the ballot, asking residents whether they want to cut the levy of every Kendall County governing body by 20 percent. No local government has to abide by the results, but organizers hope if the referendum passes, it will send a message.

Yorkville residents will be asked whether they want to purchase the Rec Center by making payments not to exceed $2.5 million over the next 20 years. The Rec Center was once a privately owned fitness club called Club 47. Last fiscal year, the center had a budget of about $660,000, but took in about $600,000. The city has a five-year lease, agreed to in 2008, with an option to pick up another five years. The city must decide on the second lease by the end of December.

Sandwich residents will vote on whether open burning of landscape waste should be allowed on the property where the waste was produced. The Sandwich Library District is also asking residents for permission to issue $3.4 million in bonds to build, furnish and equip a new library building.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9. Early voting will start Oct. 22.

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