Collinsville area voters to decide whether to eliminate park district

By Joe Barnas, Illinois Policy Institute | Oct 29, 2018

On Nov. 6, voters in the Collinsville area will consider a binding referendum asking whether the Collinsville Area Recreation District, or CARD, should be dissolved.

After more than 6,750 petition signatures were collected, CARD commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 15 to include the binding referendum on the Nov. 6 general ballot.

According to the county, the referendum question reads, “Shall the park district known as the Collinsville Area Recreation District be dissolved?”

A “yes” vote signals support for the elimination of the park district. A “no” vote signals opposition to the elimination of the district. A two-thirds majority vote is required for the referendum to take effect.

The district – which includes parts of Collinsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, Pontoon Beach and Caseyville – is no longer responsible for any parks after having transferred its assets to Collinsville and Maryville.

Since its creation in 1991, CARD has accumulated over $21 million in debt through the issuance of bonds for parks. While the debt will take over 20 years to pay off regardless of the referendum outcome, elimination of the park district may lower the CARD portion of residents’ property tax bills by 25 percent, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

According to Collinsville City Manager Mitch Bair, the park transfer comes as an added cost to the city, but he expects increased tax revenue to cover the costs. An expanded food and beverage tax and increased hotel and motel tax went into effect in Collinsville on May. 1.

This is not the first time district residents have attempted to eliminate the park district. Residents unsuccessfully tried in 2015 to gather enough petition signatures for a ballot question. This time the voters will be able to register their opinions at the ballot box.

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