News - McHenry County

Harvard residents to consider parks, library referendums in March election

Harvard Mayor Michael Kelly

HARVARD – Harvard residents will consider in March whether to fund improvements and maintenance to city parks and the Harvard Diggins Library.

Residents would not see an increase in their tax bills, but a “yes” vote could mean they won’t see a planned decrease, either.

About $100 from a homeowner’s property taxes goes toward paying off debt for the city swimming pool. The loan will be paid off in 2019, so the city no longer will tax residents for the payment. This specific tax generates about $300,000 total on an annual basis, Harvard officials said.

The city now is proposing to tax the same amount but toward the parks and library instead of a pool.

“[We] bought a pool, and the loan [we] took out will be paid off,” Harvard Mayor Michael Kelly said in a statement. “[We] now own the pool, free and clear. [We] can now get a new loan to go buy improvements to the parks, and major maintenance and improvements to the library. Your payments would stay the same – you would simply be paying for different amenities.”

The two-part referendum also was on last year’s ballot in April. Voters agreed that the city should put money toward the parks and library, but they did not approve the second part, which allows Harvard to tax them for the projects.

“So the voters said you can spend the money, but didn’t give the city the money to spend,” Kelly said. “Part of the issue is that the questions must be worded as dictated by state statute. So it is difficult to ascertain that is what was being asked.”

Voters will consider the questions during the primary election in March. If the referendums pass, the city will split the funding, with half going toward the library to avoid service cuts and half going to the improvement of Harvard’s parks.

Brittany Keeperman

Brittany Keeperman was a Northwest Herald reporter from 2016-19