Peru pool referendum to be pursued by former alderwoman

Nonbinding measure could send a message to Peru council

A former Peru alderwoman is taking to the streets in hopes of putting a referendum on the November ballot for a municipal swimming pool.

Sherry Mayszak said she has been working on the referendum since the fall.

“I started gathering information in September,” she said.

Mayszak said she believes a pool would be a great addition to the community, as it is a safe and fun activity for children to enjoy.

“It gives kids something to do that’s safe,” she said. “It’s somewhere they will be watched. It’s good for families.”

She said that this summer she visited the La Salle pool with her granddaughters, who live in Wisconsin, but it was crowded.

“It was so packed [that] we could not enjoy it, really,” she said, “because they are kind of young, so I had to be really careful with them, and so I just think it’s time for Peru to have a pool back.”

Mayszak said she contacted the Illinois State Board of Elections to find out how many signatures she would need for the petition and when it needed it be turned in.

An elections official said that for a referendum to be placed on a ballot, a person needs to collect 8% of the total votes placed for governor in the previous election from registered voters, and they would need to be turned in by Aug. 5.

Mayszak said she needs 331 registered voters’ signatures to have the referendum placed on the November ballot.

The referendum will state: “Shall the city of Peru construct and operate a municipal swimming pool funded by the use of the hotel/motel tax?”

However, even if Mayszak gets the referendum on the ballot and it passes, it’s nonbinding. This means Peru still may not construct a pool, but it will put political pressure on the council, she said.

“If the people pass this,” Mayszak said, “how can you say no? You represent the people, and your people are telling you they want the pool.”

City Clerk Dave Bartley brought up the referendum Monday during the petition and communications portion of the Peru City Council meeting after he received a request from Mayszak to place inserts into the utility bill to get out the word and solicit resident feedback.

Bartley said the city places inserts in the utility bills regularly, many of which promote city activities that are not necessary city functions, but he wanted the council’s opinion before moving forward.

“Typically, I’m not too stingy about inserts if they benefit the community and they benefit nonprofit groups,” he said. “But I’m just trying to get some feedback from the council and whether it’s more political.”

Corporate counsel Scott Schweickert was asked his opinion on the matter, and he said he didn’t have one.

The referendum was not an agenda item, so Bartley said he could send out more information, as the insert isn’t meant to go out in the bills for the next month or two.

“I can send you guys a draft of what is being asked,” he said, “and then you guys can give me some feedback. Maybe we can discuss this further at a committee meeting.”

Alderman Bob Tieman asked Bartley to clarify what Mayszak was looking to insert into the utility bill.

“It’s an explanation of funding,” Bartley said. “So knowing that there’s extra hotel/motel tax collected. Knowing that hotel/motel tax funds are sometimes allocated toward functions or activities in the city that promote tourism.”

The hotel/motel tax was increased in June 2022 from 4.7% to 7%.

Mayor Ken Kolowski asked Bartley if there would be a cost to the city for the insert. Bartley said there is no cost. Whoever requests the insert, however, must prepare it.

Kolowski told Bartley to send exactly what Mayszak wanted inserted to each alderman, and they would read it and decide whether to approve or disapprove the insert.

In the meantime, Bartley said he would check to see if the insert is something state rules would allow.

For information about the referendum, visit the Friends and Family for Peru Pool Facebook page.