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Heights District 128 to borrow $4.2 million

     Palos Heights School District 128 plans to borrow $4.2 million by selling working cash fund bonds unless voters petition to place the bond issue as a referendum question on the November presidential election ballot.

     The board of education voted on Jan. 13 to adopt a resolution declaring its intention to issue the working cash bonds, but that new bonding authority is first subject to a “back-door” referendum if brought to the ballot by voter initiative.

     A public hearing by the school board on the bond issue is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, in the board room of the district office, 12809 S. McVickers Ave., Palos Heights.

    School District 128 has a long history of utilizing bond proceeds for required health and life safety work, as well as capital improvements, Superintendent Dawn Green said Monday in a statement explaining the need for the bond issue. “The district does not levy a tax for its health life safety fund, so the revenue from these bond issues is needed to complete this work.”

    Voters of the district may file a petition with the school board’s secretary at the district office to force the bond issue on the November 2016 ballot for voter approval under state law.

    Proceeds for principal and interest payments for the working cash bonds issued by the school district would be automatically levied on the property tax rolls as an obligation assumed by district property-tax payers.

    Voters have 30 days from Jan. 21, the date of publication of the legal notice of intent to issue the bonds, to file the petition for the proposition to be put to voters. The petition must be signed by a minimum of 708 registered voters, or 10 percent of the total, who reside in the school district to force it onto the ballot.

   The public notice was published in a daily newspaper; The Regional learned of the bond issue after last week’s edition was published.

    If a petition containing a sufficient number of legally valid signatures is filed with the secretary of the school board within that time period, the referendum would be placed on the Nov. 8 election ballot. The Cook County Circuit Court, however, could by state law declare an emergency referendum be held prior to that election.

   If no petition is filed by the deadline, the district will have the legal authority to issue the bonds.

With the most recent $4.2 million bond issuance, the proceeds will be transferred immediately into the capital improvements fund in order to pay for the next five years of capital improvement projects, including but not limited to, science lab improvements, roofing, heating and cooling units, pavements, technology upgrades, media center improvements, and improved safety and security measures, Superintendent Green said.   “The district has worked diligently to secure repayment terms for our current bond issuance that are lower than our current debt service on the 2010 bonds.”

The district would be remiss to not have a plan in place for health life safety projects that need to be done within the next 12 months,” Green continued. “The safety and security of our students, families, and staff are the most important reasons for maintaining our buildings and grounds. Securing these bond proceeds ensures the district’s preparedness and ability to make thoughtful and educated decisions in regards to these matters.”

The district encourages any parents or community members who have questions or would like to discuss this issue to contact Superintendent Green, at [email protected] or by phone at 597-9040.

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