Rock Island County voters turn down bid to finance courthouse


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Originally Posted Online: April 09, 2013, 11:16 pm
Last Updated: April 10, 2013, 10:52 am
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

This story was updated April 9, 2013, to reflect the correct yes-no percentages in the Public Building Commission referendum.

 

Rock Island County voters on Tuesday soundly defeated a referendum proposal backed by judges and county officials to finance construction of a new courthouse.

The question asked voters was whether they support expanding the authority of the Rock Island County Public Building Commission, which has been limited to jail projects.

A "yes" vote would have allowed the county board to direct the commission to finance construction of a new courthouse.But voters rejected the proposal by a 61-39 margin.

Illinois 14th Judicial Circuit Court judges who use the courthouse had pushed for the referendum, arguing that the courthouse was in a serious state of disrepair and does not meet guidelines set by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Chief Judge Jeffrey O'Connor served the county with an intent to sue over the condition of the courthouse in December and the judges could now proceed with a lawsuit.Judge O'Connor was unavailable for comment after election results were released Tuesday.

Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek said the referendum result was "unfortunate" but thanked all of the voters who participated in the process.

Expanding the powers of the public building commission also would have allowed the county to finance renovations or construction of other county properties, including the county's administration building, which also is in need of updates.

"The situation with the courthouse and the administration building don't change," Mr. Banaszek said. "We've still got to find a way to solve those problems."

A special committee established by Mr. Banaszek to look at options for the future of the courthouse meets today and will discuss the referendum result.

The committee is co-chaired by Rock Island County Board member Brian Vyncke, D-Moline. He had been a critic of the referendum question on Tuesday's ballot, which did not offer any specifics on the courthouse project, as being too vague.

But Mr. Vyncke said the referendum result would now allow the county board to get more information on the scope and size of the courthouse project. The county could then return to the public with a more specific referendum question in the spring of next year, he said.

In a second referendum, 65 percent of voters backed an advisory question to retain single-member districts on the county board, with 34 percent voting against the proposition.

The board has 25 members elected from single-member districts now, and Mr. Banaszek had proposed the referendum question. In November, a large majority of voters backed an advisory question to cut the size of the county board to 15 members, elected from three districts.

Mr. Banaszek said that if enacted the change would dilute representation on the board of minorities and rural areas.






 














 



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  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






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