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Suburban voters largely reject tax increase referenda

A majority of residents in many of Chicago's suburban communities on Tuesday said 'no' to ballot proposals that sought to increase their tax rates. In communities from far northern Lake County to far southwestern Kendall County, most voters weren't in a spending mood.

Among the referenda that went down to defeat on Tuesday were proposals to raise more funds for school districts, including Winthrop Harbor School District 1, Prospect Heights School District 23, West Northfield Elementary School District 31, Highland Park/Deerfield Community Township High School District 113, Arbor Park Elementary School District 145, Mokena School District 159, and Lockport High School District 205.  In each case, voters rejected plans to increase tax levies or to issue new bonds.

Voters in Oak Park and Wilmette, however, bucked the prevailing trend.  They gave a thumbs up to proposals that asked to boost the amount of tax revenues available to their local elementary school districts. 

Oak Park District 97 won approval for a plan to increase property taxes 3.8 percent.  Supporters say the hike will help avoid cuts to staff, as well as cuts to arts and sports programs.

Wilmette School District 39, meanwhile, prevailed in its push to raise its tax rate. The victory now paves the way for an expected $6.4 million in additional revenues to cover projected budget deficits.

But elsewhere, other units of government which had hoped to boost their revenue streams came up empty handed.

Voters in Prospect Heights rejected two separate measures. One would've increased the city's sales tax rate by five-tenths of a percent; the other would've enabled the municipality to issue more than $5 million in bonds for police pensions.

Proposals to increase tax levies for the Palos Fire District and the Olympia Fields Park District also went down to defeat on Tuesday, as did a plan to create a local sales tax in Yorkville.

In west suburban Wheaton, residents pulled the curtain down on a proposal to use $150 thousand in city funds to restore the Grand Theater.  And in Cicero, voters simply stopped the music altogether:  they voted to ban neighborhood block parties, although the referendum is non-binding.

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