ROUND LAKE – One Round Lake, a coalition of more than 500 residents of three Round Lake villages – Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, and Round Lake Park – has filed petitions with the Lake County Clerk for a ballot referendum that would allow voters in each of the three separate villages to unite into one, the group announced in a news release.
The goal is "to reduce the property tax burden and make local government more efficient," the news release said.
A united Round Lake would become the second largest city in Lake County and merging three bureaucracies would save millions of dollars, according to the news release.
"There is so much money wasted by having three separate Round Lake municipalities. The vast redundancies in operations can be eliminated by merging into a single city while saving the taxpayers millions of dollars," Bill Gentes, One Round Lake Coalition spokesperson, said in the release. "The people of the Round Lake Area identify as a single community, already enjoying joint library and park districts. The only opposition to becoming a unified Round Lake comes from some of the villages' elected officials, who ironically enough will most likely use precious taxpayer dollars to fight an effort designed to increase efficiency and save money."
In a separate news release, the village of Round Lake Beach said the consolidation attempt is being rushed without giving voters enough time to weigh the pros and cons.
"The speed in which voters are being asked to consider this proposition does not allow for adequate public conversation on the merits of the issue, nor does it allow for a full economic impact study to be conducted to determine the overall impact on the individual taxpayer," the village said in its news release. "Furthermore the lack of transparency on the part of those proposing the question is troubling in that it appears that this initiative is motivated for some purpose other than the interests of the residents who reside in Round Lake, Round Lake Park and Round Lake Beach.
"The issue of consolidation is a serious matter that could have serious economic consequences for each individual taxpayer," the city continued. "Rushing the question to a Nov. 8 vote denies each resident the opportunity to become thoroughly informed on issues involving consolidation."
The process for consolidation is being overseen by Judge Thomas M. Schippers. If approved, council members would be elected from geographic districts instead of at-large, meaning each area would be represented by a local city council member.