Brainerd referendum pushed to 2014
Updated: March 18, 2013 1:17AM
LIBERTYVILLE – Members of the Brainerd Community Center board have asked the village to postpone putting a referendum on the ballot which would seek to raise $6.5 million to turn the building into a fully functional community center.
The decision to postpone was made at the Jan. 8 village board meeting. At an earlier meeting, a $3.5 million referendum was discussed for the April 9 ballot. The higher amount was arrived at after doing more research, which trustees were pushing for.
“I’m happy that you did this. I’m happy that the number is higher, because it means we won’t need to come back to the taxpayers,” Trustee Donna Johnson said.
Barring any further delays, the question of whether taxpayers will pony up to get Brainerd going will be put to voters in March 2014.
Village board members and representatives of the Brainerd board agreed that there was not enough time to educate residents on the issue before the April election.
Trustee Rich Moras made clear the problem.
“My concern is that a handful of people will vote positively and the majority of people in the village won’t be aware [of the referendum],” he said. “If we do this, we want to do it with our eyes wide open.”
Trustee Todd Gaines, meanwhile, expressed concern that signatures for the referendum were collected when $3.5 million was the discussed amount, not the higher figure of $6.5 million.
“Would they have signed if they knew it was more?” Gaines said. “I think it’s a little concerning for the voter.”
There was a sense of fatigue among the village board and the Brainerd board that these discussions have been ongoing for the past five to six years and no action has been taken.
“It’s time to fish or cut bait,” Moras said.
The Brainerd board is hoping that with the extended timeline they will be able to convince voters and provide enough information to them and the village board.
Village President Terry Weppler accepted the change of plans, but was taken aback.
“I think you’ve managed to surprise me this evening,” Weppler said. “We were ready to vote on this.”