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Will County voters weigh in on referendums

Will County — Many Will County voters had the chance to weigh in on taxing or spending issues for one of their local bodies of government.

Local taxing bodies sometimes will call a ballot question, or referendum, for a vote in an election to seek permission from voters on various issues, which normally pertain to raising taxes or issuing bonds.

The following results stood as of 9:20 p.m. Tuesday night, with 282 out of 310 precincts reporting in Will County.

Manhattan School District 114

Out of 1,035 voters, 721 voters were in favor of the referendum, while 314 voters were against it.

District 114 asked voters to approve a bond, or a loan, of up to $85 million so the district could construct a fourth school building.

The district has experienced a significant growth in the number of students in recent years, up about 44% since 2013. That growth has caused a space crunch in the district’s existing three buildings, to the point that libraries, theater stages and even teachers’ lounges have been used as classrooms.

Superintendent Russell Ragon said if the bonding was approved by voters, the district’s property tax rate wouldn’t change, and the funding only would be used for the new building.

Troy Fire Protection District

Out of 3,041 voters, 1,179 voters voted in favor of the referendum, while 1,862 voted against it.

Troy Fire District Chief Andrew Doyle said the tax increase would result in about a one-tenth of a percentage point increase on property, and a net increase of about $763,000 annually in additional revenue for the district.

Doyle said the added revenue is largely needed to pay for about $4 million in necessary vehicle and equipment upgrades the district wants to make over the next three to four years.

That includes hundreds of thousands for a new ladder truck, fire engine and ambulances.

Doyle also said he hopes to convert three of his part-time positions into full-time positions to persuade more firefighters to work for the district amid a worker shortage.

White Oak Library District

Out of 8,427 voters, 3,815 voters voted in favor of the referendum, while 4,612 voted against it.

This was the seventh time the library district has asked its voters to approve a tax increase, which would be the first since its property tax was established in 1929.

With the extra funding, the district wanted to open its libraries in Crest Hill, Lockport and Romeoville for 11 more hours each week, expand its outreach for its many senior residents and offer more digital items for patrons.