By Jane Charmelo LOMBARDIAN-VILLA PARK REVIEW STAFF REPORTER
The Lombard Public Facilities Corporation, or LPFC, will no longer be requesting that the village of Lombard provide funds for its debt service, after a move to file for Chapter 11 restructuring of debt was approved in court on Tuesday, March 6. According to Village Manager Scott Niehaus, prior to the March 6 confirmation of debt restructuring by the court, a judge in December 2017 ruled that the LPFC is separate from the village and was eligible to file for the Chapter 11 restructuring. Additionally, the village in July 2017 approved the restructuring support agreement, according to a village timeline.
Special meeting held The Lombard Village Board held a special meeting on Thursday, March 8, approving measures to re-designate the LPFC as a public facilities corporation, amend certain bylaws and provide consent to the LPFC debt restructuring. The board also voted on an amendment that would eliminate the LPFC’s twice-yearly request for funding, with Tom Bayer, village attorney, describing that it has been “carved out of the tax rebate agreement.” Niehaus said that since the Westin Hotel and Conference Center opened in 2007, the LPFC was required to come before the village twice a year to request funds to help pay the debt service. Going back, in 2003, after it was determined by a “third party” that this location in central DuPage County would “make an ideal location” for such a hotel and conference center, the separate, non-profit LPFC was formed to own the Westin, according to village documents. In 2005, the LPFC sold bonds to pay for construction, and the hotel and conference center opened in 2007. Tim Sexton, the village’s finance director, said back in June that despite economic projections, around 2008-09 earnings proved not to match those projections, leading to a shortfall. Each time the LPFC requested funds to pay its debt, the village board voted against the measure because it was not obligated to do so. However, declining the requests resulted in the village’s credit rating being lowered, with the village manager saying the apparent thinking was the village had a “moral obligation” to provide the funds.
Finance director: LPFC debt roughly around $240 million He said the requests amounted to roughly $2 million every six months, and Sexton said the LPFC debt is now roughly $240 million. However, according to Niehaus, the village does have an agreement with the LPFC to rebate hotel/motel, places for eating and sales taxes “generated by the property.” That revenue can be used by the LPFC to repay the debt. In addition, the village board on March 1 voted to return $3 million to the LPFC that had been provided to the village for water main and water system improvements that Niehaus said would have been done anyway, relative to the location and proximity to Yorktown Center. He said the agreement to return that $3 million was contingent on the LPFC using that money for “bricks and mortar” improvements, and not for debt repayments. “It’s very important [to the village] to dictate where the money is going,” the village manager emphasized. The village board also passed a contingent TIF payment agreement for $3.7 million between now and 2027, that would be earmarked for the LPFC. That money can only be used for TIF-eligible expenses, Niehaus said, such as long-term maintenance and improvements to the property. A TIF district was approved previously by the board that includes areas around the former Northern Baptist Theological Seminary property, the Westin property and a portion of Yorktown mall.
Agreements don’t impact service levels or property taxes The village and LPFC have 18 months to negotiate the TIF payments and “in the event the village and LPFC cannot come to terms, the village will pay $1.5 million to the LPFC for TIF-elibigle expenses,” Niehaus emphasized. The bottom line for taxpayers, say village officials, is that these agreements do not impact service levels or property taxes within the village. The $3 million is coming from the village’s water fund reserves, said Niehaus, and will not affect water rates. “This money has already been collected,” Sexton pointed out. The $3.7 million would be “set aside” for the eligible expenses, and will come from the TIF funds, Niehaus related, and also cannot be used for debt repayment. Village officials stressed that they are trying to aid the Westin to preserve a thriving area of commerce and as such, draw in visitors. “Why is the village investing so much time and effort and money?” Niehaus posed, then answered the question by stating that it’s about the local economy. The average visitor in the area spends $134 a day; those attending meetings spend more than twice that. The hotel remains busy, with more than 130,000 overnight stays in 2016, which translates into $17.4 million spent in Lombard and nearby. Other area hotels also benefit from the conference center. The village wants the hotel and conference center to continue operations, especially in light of its proximity to the mall and new housing being built nearby. And, the village manager said, it is hopeful the agreement for the LPFC to discontinue requesting funds for debt service will improve Lombard’s bond rating. The restructuring plan is slated to go into effect on Thursday, March 15.
Correction In the March 1 village board story, the passage of an amendment to the village ordinance regarding peddlers and solicitors was on first reading. The board will revisit the issue for final passage at the Thursday, March 15, village board meeting.
Holiday ‘Drive Sober’ campaign for St. Patrick’s Day
As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of millions of Americans with Irish ancestry. But all too often, the celebration can turn deadly because of impaired driving. This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, the Lombard Police Department has some advice for you: “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over!” “Our Lombard officers will be on patrol this St. Patrick’s Day, so make sure you obey the law,” said Traffic Unit Officer Lt. Joe Grage. “Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let your friends do it, either. Help us make Zero Fatalities a Reality in Illinois.” In addition to looking for alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers, the Lombard Police Department will be stepping up seat belt enforcement, particularly at night when seat belt usage rates are lowest. “Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive,” said Lt. Grage. “If you choose to drink, designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely from the party. If you’re planning on driving, don’t drink. The last thing you want is to ride home with a cop.” Lt. Grage said always designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol. If you are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party: • Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you serve is involved in an impaired driving crash. • Make sure all guests designate a sober driver in advance or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers. • Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party. • Keep the phone numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving drunk. If you are attending a St. Patrick’s Day party: • Designate a sober driver before the party begins and give that person your keys. • If you do not have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a cab, sober friend or family member to pick you up or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober. • Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive drunk. • Always buckle up. • Pedestrians are at risk, too. If you are walking, keep an eye out for cars. Designated drivers: Be alert for impaired walkers who may not obey street signs. The St. Patrick’s Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation. Contact the Lombard Police Department at 630-873- 4400 with any questions.
Lombard Public Works seeking resident participants for first Public Works Citizens Academy
The Lombard Public Works Department is seeking residents to participate in its first ever Public Works Citizens Academy (PWCA), beginning April 16. The free Academy is open to residents 18-and-older and will offer hands-on training activities, tours of Village facilities and presentations by Public Works staff. Lombard’s PWCA will be conducted on Monday evenings, 6-8:30 p.m., from April 16-May 7, with a graduation event scheduled on Thursday, May 17, in conjunction with a regularly scheduled Village Board of Trustees meeting. Topics covered will include streets, electrical and forestry divisions as well as underground utilities. Participants will also see demonstrations, learn about Lombard’s utility systems and tour the Glenbard Wastewater Authority. “It takes every division of our Public Works Department to keep Lombard running smoothly,” said Public Works Director Carl Goldsmith. “We’re happy to open this program up to residents so people in the community can learn about our processes and techniques for maintaining our beautiful village.” For additional information or to register, visit the Village of Lombard’s website at www.villageoflombard.org/ PWCA. The registration deadline is Friday, March 30 and class size is limited. Contact Public Works at (630) 620- 5740 with any questions.
The Lombardian-Villa Park Review’s election guide: Candidates
This is the Lombardian-Villa Park Review’s guide to the candidates in the upcoming General Primary Election to be held Tuesday, March 20. The candidates who win in the March 20 election will be on the ballot in the general election in November. Due to space limitations, only the primary races that are contested for each office below are listed.
Governor, Republicans Those seeking to be the Republican nominee in the general election in the race for governor are Jeannie Ives and Bruce Rauner. Rauner is the incumbent. (Vote for one).
Governor, Democrats Those seeking to be the Democratic nominee in the general election in the race for governor are JB Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman and Robert Marshall. (Vote for one)
Attorney general, Republicans Those seeking to be the Republican nominee in the general election in the race for attorney general are Erika Harold and Gary Grasso. (Vote for one)
Attorney general, Democrats Those seeking to be the Democratic nominee in the general election in the race for attorney general are Pat Quinn, Renato Mariotti, Scott Drury, Nancy Rotering, Kwame Raoul, Jessie Ruiz, Sharon Fairley and Aaron Goldstein. (Vote for one)
U.S. Congress, 6th Congressional District, Democrats Those seeking to be the Democratic nominee in the general election in the race for U.S. Congress, 6th Congressional District, are Kelly Mazeski, Amanda Howland, Sean Casten, Jennifer Zordani, Becky Anderson Wilkins, Ryan Huffman and Carole Cheney. (Vote for one). The winner will face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam.
State representative, 46th District, Republicans Those seeking to be the Republican nominee in the general election in the race for the 46th District state representative are Gordon (Jay) Kinzler and Roger Orozco. (Vote for one) The winner will face incumbent Democrat State Rep. Deb Conroy.
DuPage County Sheriff, Republicans Two persons are seeking the Republican nomination to run for DuPage County Sheriff. They are Frank Bibbiano and James Mendrick. (Vote for one)
DuPage County Board District 1, Republicans There are three persons seeking one of two seats available on the Republican ballot to represent District 1 on the DuPage County Board. They are: Sam Tornatore, Dino Gavanes and Paul A. DeMichele. Tornatore is an incumbent.
DuPage County Board District 2, Democrats Three persons are seeking one of two seats available on the Democrat ballot to represent District 2 on the DuPage County Board. They are: Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin, Arlene Kendorski and Claire Goldenberg. Chaplin is an incumbent.
DuPage County Board District 4, Republicans Six persons are seeking one of two seats available on the Republican ballot to represent District 4 on the DuPage County Board. They are: Grant Eckhoff, Ron Almiron, Paula, McGowen, Christopher J. Zaruba, Craig R. Chinchilla and Elizabeth “Beth” Tatro. Grant Eckhoff is the incumbent.
DuPage County Board District 4, Democrats Three persons are seeking one of two seats available on the Democratic ballot to represent District 4 on the DuPage County Board. They are: Trevor J. Orsinger, Hadiya Afzal and Mary FitzGerald Ozog.
Judge of the Circuit Court, 18th Judicial Circuit, Democrats Three persons are seeking to fill the vacancy on the Democratic ballot of the Honorable Blanche Hill Fawell. They are: David Stevens, Jeffrey M. Jacobson and Raleigh D. Kalbfleisch. (Vote for one)
The Lombardian-Villa Park Review’s election guide: Referenda
This is the Lombardian and Villa Park Review’s guide to the upcoming General Primary Election which will be held Tuesday, March 20.
York Center Fire Protection District referendum One of the items on the ballot in DuPage County will be a proposition to create a new tax rate for emergency and rescue fund purposes for the York Center Fire Protection District, which serves unincorporated areas of Lombard, Villa Park, Oak Brook and Oakbrook Terrace. Shall the York Center Fire Protection District , DuPage County, Illinois, be authorized to levy a new tax for emergency and rescue crews and equipment purchases, and have an additional tax of 10 percent of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein extended for such purposes? 1.) The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is $2,114,317, and the approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is approved is $2,353,276. 2.) For the 2018 levy year, the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $33.33.
Advisory referendum Another item on the ballot in DuPage County will be an advisory referendum on the Election Commission Consolidation. An advisory referendum, versus a binding referendum, serves to gain the electorate’s opinion on a certain issue. If the issue garners a majority of votes, it does NOT mean it automatically becomes law. It is only a way for officials to gauge the voters’ feelings on a certain matter, in this case, the DuPage Election Commission. An explanation follows:
About the Election Commission Consolidation referendum DuPage County is proposing the consolidation of the DuPage County Election Commission, a separate governmental agency, with the County Clerk’s Office. Placing the responsibility for the Election Commission under a countywide elected official, versus an appointed body, will improve accountability and result in many operational efficiency, saving taxpayers significant resources. Prior to 1974, the County Clerk assumed the responsibility for the administration of local elections, as does every other County Clerk in the state except for seven municipal election commissions (Aurora, Bloomington, Chicago, Danville, East St. Louis, Galesburg and Rockford) and one county election commission (Peoria). On the March 2018 primary ballot, the DuPage County Board has placed an advisory referendum question asking voters the following: “Shall the DuPage County Election Commission be dissolved and its functions consolidated with the Office of the County Clerk?” DuPage County lacks the authority to place a binding referendum question on the ballot unless citizens gather more than 61,000 signatures to formally place the initiative on the ballot. (State statute requires the signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in the county).
The background for this information was provided by the League of Women Voters, which received it from the offices of the DuPage County Board.
Conroy looks to pass gun ownership reform
State Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, recently voted to pass a series of gun safety measures out of the House. “I applaud my colleagues for putting the safety and well-being of our families and children first by voting for responsible gun reform,” Conroy said. “As a state, we can and should do better to protect our communities from gun violence. “I urge the Senate and the governor to join the House in standing up to the powerful gun lobby and do the right thing before another tragedy occurs. These are very reasonable commonsense measures that represent significant steps towards improving gun safety while not infringing on law-abiding gun owners’ rights.” Conroy supported a package of bills that would require gun dealers to be licensed by the state, raise the age to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21, extend the “cooling off” waiting period for assault weapon purchases from 24 to 72 hours, and ban bump stock trigger modification devices. Bump stocks were used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn a semiautomatic rifle into an automatic weapon capa- ble of shooting hundreds of rounds a minute. Conroy also introduced House Bill 1664 to strengthen mental health provisions for obtaining a Firearm Owners’ Identification (FOID) card and create a statewide hotline to report potentially dangerous persons. “Our work is far from over and I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass legislation to prevent gun violence in Illinois,” Conroy added. “Today we took a step forward by showing our constituents that we are willing to put aside our political differences and prioritize our commitment to keeping our children safe from the senseless gun violence in communities across the state.”