PEKIN — Voting in Tazewell County is running true to form — only 495 out of approximately 90,000 registered voters have cast ballots on early voting and mail-in ballots combined.
The Consolidated Election is Tuesday with some significant contested races and seven referendums that will raise taxes for some residents, but still apathy continues to reign.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever reached 25 percent (in the county),” said Tazewell County Clerk Christie Webb. “The norm is 10 to 12 percent.
“If we get 20 percent, it’s big. You might find that some areas vote heavier than others, but when you take the aggregate it’s probably going to be 12 to 15 percent. I tell people you have to understand that whether you vote or not, we have to prepare for (the election). An election is very, very costly. It’s more costly per vote because people don’t vote.”
On the ballot are candidates for cities and villages, park districts, school boards, library boards and townships.
The heaviest consolidated election turnout in Pekin, said Webb, was the 2003 election that included the race between incumbent Mayor Dave Tebben and challenger Lynn Howard. In that election, 5,421 people voted in Pekin alone — short of 25 percent of the city’s registered voters. Howard defeated Tebben by a mere 21 votes.
In this year’s Pekin Council race, there are four candidates on the ballot — Jim Schramm, owner of Yesterday’s Bar & Grill; Michael Garrison; John McNish; and current Councilman Lloyd Orrick. There are two write-ins — Dustin Ward and Jennifer Michelle Hall. Yet, so far, there have only been 104 votes cast in early voting and mail-in ballots.
Webb orders ballots based on the area in the county they are for because some areas have a higher voting history.
This year, Webb budgeted $360,000 for the February Primary and the Consolidated Election together. The primary drew approximately 20 percent of voters to the polls. Webb said people tend to vote more in the primary.
Moira Hartley, election supervisor, said she received a call Monday from an individual asking what was on the ballot.
“Oh, that’s all that’s on the ballot?” said Hartley of the woman’s reply.
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at twitter.com/sharrispekin
Tazewell County referendums for April 4 election day
Cincinnati Township tax rate
- The homeowner of a $100,000 home would pay approximately $18.34 more in the first year and a few cents more in subsequent years on their township property tax bill. The increase is not cumulative — it is not another $18 added on top of the previous year’s increase. If the township wishes to continue with the increase after the fourth year, it would have to place another referendum on the ballot for voter approval. If passed, the referendum would increase funding to the Town Fund by about $100,000 a year if passed.
Deer Creek-Mackinaw School District tax rate
- If the education fund tax rate increase from $2.85 to $3.15 per $100 equalized assessed valuation is approved, it will be offset by a 30-cent drop in the district’s bonds and interest tax rate from $1.07 to 77 cents. About $4.885 million of the $5.885 million in the building bonds referendum will be used to construct a new football stadium at Dee-Mack High School that will be partially in the footprint of the current stadium, which is antiquated. Much of the remaining $1 million in the building bonds referendum will be used for roof and parking lot work at the high school.
Brush Hill fire district to increase limiting rate
- Increase the property tax levy over the limits of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law. PTELL states that taxing bodies cannot increase levies by more than 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, without voter approval. The fire district wants to increase the levy by 8 percent per year for the levy years 2017 through 2026. The increase for the owner of a $100,000 single family home would be an estimated $11.21 in 2017 and gradually increase each year to 2026 to $12.31. The increase could be more or less depending on property values.
Village of Creve Couer to become ‘home rule’
- Voters will be asked in the village of Creve Coeur to become a home rule unit. Home rule municipalities “may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt” without specific statutory authority, according to the Illinois Municipal League.
Schaeferville fire district issue of bonds
- The Schaeferville Fire Protection District is asking voters for the issue of $365,000 in fire protection bonds.
Other referendums include:
- Metamora Township High School District’s $11 million bond referendum on the April 4 ballot would increase the tax rate from $2.66 to $2.69 per $100 assessed valuation, or 1 percent. However, the three-cents increase would be on top of the 15-cents increase to the tax rate after the last bond referendum passed in 1998. After that bond is paid off in December 2018, the 15 cents rolls over into the new bond issue.
- Mason City Public Library’s proposition to annex certain territories into Mason City Library.
Information provided by the Tazewell County clerk’s office, Sharon Woods Harris of Pekin Daily Times, and Steve Stein and Pam Adams of GateHouse Media Illinois