September 28, 2022
Election


Election

Elburn will not ask for referendum for new police station on November ballot

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

The village of Elburn has decided not to pursue a referendum this fall asking residents to approve additional funding to pay for the construction of a new police department building.

A mail-in survey resulted in an almost-even split on whether to approve the additional taxes to help fund the $9 million building, with 46% in agreement of the referendum and 47% not in favor of the increase. The tax increase for Elburn residents would have been an additional $100 per $100,000 of their home’s value.

Based on the divided responses, and with 62% of the responses expressing concerns over the tax implications, Police Chief Nick Sikora’s recommendation to the Village Board was not to move forward with the referendum in November.

“This fall’s ballot is not the best time to move this forward,” Sikora told village officials at Monday’s meeting. “It’s pretty risky to move forward now without looking at other alternatives.

“The citizens have spoken. We listened to their concerns. We have to proceed in a professional manner.”

The board unanimously voted to accept Sikora’s recommendation not to pursue the referendum this fall.

Sikora said the department will take a couple of months to explore other options for the building, including reducing the size of the facility, pushing the project further out in time or waiting for additional homes to be constructed, which would allow the village to spread out the cost among residents.

Sikora said he was concerned about making the building smaller, which would involve taking away the training/community room and the exercise/multipurpose room. Although it would mean a savings of $1 million, it would only save residents $10 on each $100,000 of the cost of their homes.

The downside of waiting, Sikora said, is the cost of the project likely would increase by about 5% each year that they wait.

The decision to pursue a new police building was based on the results of a professional needs analysis of the current facility. The current space that houses the department is a 1,875-square-foot portion of Elburn’s Village Hall.

The plan calls for the new 18,065-square-foot building to be located on property already owned by the village at Anderson and Keslinger roads.

According to the needs assessment of the building, the size of the current space is “not enough room for 10 full-time officers, 10 part-time officers, two records staff and two part-time community service officers.”

In addition to the village’s current needs, Elburn’s population and police force are projected to continue growing, increasing the need for additional space.

The police department’s website identifies a number of challenges that the lack of adequate space poses, including a small booking room that is not equipped to properly detain or hold detainees, not enough room to safely process and properly store evidence, limited space for secure weapons storage and a lack of secure parking.

The department hosted a couple of open houses to inform the public of these challenges, as well as to provide a tour of the current space. A citizen’s task force was created to help with the communication with residents about the need for the new building.

Sikora said the citizen’s committee will continue to help with any further action.

Susan O'Neill

Susan O'Neill is a contributor to Shaw Local