Elburn to put referendum for new police station on April ballot

The Elburn Village Hall is currently also home to the Elburn Police Department.

The Elburn Village Board voted at Monday night’s meeting to put a referendum on the April ballot asking residents to approve $9.9 million in bonds for the construction of a new police station on Anderson Road.

The current police station is located inside the Village Hall.

The bond would be paid off over a period of 20 years. The estimated annual cost to a homeowner would be $100 per $100,000 of assessed value of their home.

Police Chief Nick Sikora said at the Dec. 5 meeting that about 50 people came through the police department during the Christmas Stroll, which was Dec. 3, to ask questions about a potential new police station, as well as tour the current facility.

“Everyone understood what we’re asking for,” Sikora said.

Ken Gustafson, a longtime resident and business owner in Elburn, was a member of the police department’s Citizen Task Force, which was tasked with evaluating the need for a new station and the options to replace it.

After reviewing the challenges of the facility, which measures 1,900 square feet and is located in the east half of Village Hall, Gustafson said Tuesday morning the task force realized it “is not going to serve us for any length of time.”

Among the drawbacks of the facility, Gustafson mentioned the lack of a licensed holding facility, requiring the police to transfer individuals to the Kane County Jail. He said there is not a secure parking structure to bring prisoners into the facility for booking, leaving opportunities for escape, nor is there room to safely process and properly store evidence or secure weapons.

Gustafson said the building materials, including drywall and wooden doors, are inadequate for a safe facility.

He said the task force evaluated the possibility of renovating several buildings in town, including the Elburn Community Center, and after deciding those options were not realistic, they opted for a plan for construction of a new building located on a site on Anderson Road, south of Keslinger Road.

Gustafson said the land was purchased for $25,000, which he called “a steal.” Utilities and other infrastructure needed already exist there, which was another plus, he said.

“We were lucky to get the lot for $25,000,” he said.

He said the task force started with plans for a building that would cost $11 million, but thought that was too much.

The task force found ways to pare down the cost to $9 million and conducted a mail-in survey to obtain residents’ opinions. The results were a 50/50 split for and opposed to the idea, Gustafson said.

“Nobody wants to pay more taxes,” he said.

However, he said if residents looked at their tax bills, they would recognize the village’s portion is smaller than some of the other taxing bodies.

“The school’s portion of a resident’s taxes comes to 67%,” he said.

Kaneland School District 302 also plans to put a referendum on the April ballot, which will make it a bigger stretch for residents, he said.

“It’s important to educate the kids, but I hope that people will also believe that the safety of our community and our officers is important, too,” Gustafson said.

The village had considered a referendum for the Nov. 8 election, but decided to wait until April to give residents a chance to learn more about the plan for the new building, how it will affect them and the advantages a new facility will provide.

“As the town grows, we’re going to need it,” Gustafson said. “Plus, the longer you wait (on construction projects), the more expensive it becomes.”

A new committee will be formed to provide information to the community about the referendum through public meetings and door-to-door communication with people, Gustafson said.