Speaking of referendums, the village of Brookfield has tweaked the approach to its road improvement plan, opting for a $22 million bond issue over a general fund tax increase.
While neither approach will guarantee support — either way, property owners will be paying hundreds of dollars more per year — the bond approach has two district advantages.
First, the money from the bond issue can only be used for one purpose — fixing streets. And second, after 10 years the bonds will be paid off. At that point, the village can make another pitch for a bond issue or simply let it expire and have the line item disappear from tax bills.
While a general operating increase sounded attractive, in that officials believed it would provide a permanent source of funds for road improvements, there’s no requirement for the new money to be used for any single purpose.
If in five years a new board decided that money was better spent on hiring more employees or giving staffers nice raises, there’d be nothing to stop it.
Either way, with two referendum questions coming to voters in the next 12 months, 2016 promises to be an expensive year.