RI committee plans a push for referendum votes to fund new courthouse

Originally Posted Online: March 14, 2013, 10:17 pm
Last Updated: March 31, 2013, 7:20 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

A special Rock Island County committee is planning a push for "yes" votes in the April 9 referendum asking the public to support creating a way to finance construction of a new courthouse.

At a Thursday afternoon meeting, the ad hoc building facilities committee decided to concentrate on the referendum before diving into thorny questions about where a new courthouse should be located and how much it might cost.

Rock Island County voters will be asked if they support expanding the authority of the county's public building commission. The commission currently is limited to jail projects. By expanding its authority, the commission could be used to issue bonds for any county building project.

Pressure from the county's judges to replace the dilapidated courthouse prompted the county board to put the referendum question to the public.

The ad hoc committee consists of county board members and members of the public tasked by Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek with making a recommendation to the county board on the future of the county's buildings.

The committee is expected to work through questions about whether a new courthouse is needed, where it should be built, what size should it be and how much should be spent on it. Also on the table is the possibility of building a new county administration building or consolidating all county offices on one site.

Thursday's meeting was the second by the committee, with all members supporting the passage of the April 9 referendum. After some debate, it was decided advocating support of the referendum should be the committee's primary concern.

With less than four weeks until the referendum, the committee decided to plan a media campaign, speak at local service clubs and reach out to local political officials seeking to convince them to also advocate support of the referendum.

Committee member Pat Wendt, a real estate appraiser, said it was best to "hang loose" on the details of any new building project until after the referendum passes. Ifthe referendum fails, he said, the debate will be moot because the county lacks the financing power for any serious building project.

However, committee member Don DeLoose, a bailiff, said it was difficult to sell the referendum to the public without being able to say exactly what the county would do with a newly empowered building commission.

The main purpose of the building commission is to issue bonds that would finance the construction of a new courthouse or other building. Property tax dollars would be used to service the debt.

Although the commission is independent from the county in theory, its members are appointed by the county board. The county board also directs the commission on the location, scope and cost of any project.

The ad hoc committee on the county's building needs plans to meet again Wednesday.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)