By Bob Balgemann


It started in 2008 and since then, many miles of village roads have been rebuilt and/or resurfaced thanks to the vision of voters who made all that possible.

Now voters will be asked for a second time to continue a one percent sales tax so that the Rebuild Machesney program of road and infrastructure improvements will go on indefinitely.

The following question will be on the March 17 presidential primary ballot: “Shall the village of Machesney Park, for expenditures on existing roads, drainage related infrastructure improvements, continue to impose a retailers and service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a sales tax) of one percent…”

This is not a new tax. It is an extension of an existing tax, which does not apply to groceries or food, other than what is prepared for immediate consumption, medical devices, and state-titled vehicles. The tax will be collected by the Illinois Department of Revenue from retail sales in the village.

Money generated by the referendum will be used to fund road improvements … period … according to frequently asked questions information provided by the village. Work will include road improvements such as reconstruction, drainage improvements, and resurfacing/maintenance of existing village streets.

The initial referendum promised 36.5 miles of road would be completed. The village delivered 37.60 miles. Proceeds from the second referendum (in 2012) and the utility tax combined promised 8.2 miles of reconstruction and 21.4 miles of resurfacing after completion of the 2019-20 fiscal year. The village anticipates reaching 117 percent of the promised goal.

The FY 2020 budget set aside $3.3 million for road improvements and includes reconstruction of 0.57 miles of roads, drainage construction of 0.63 miles, and resurfacing of about 6.10 miles.

Drainage improvements will provide a major savings in staff time and the elimination of two lift stations. Now, after any major rainfall, public works employees must pump water off the roads so they are passable. In addition, the two lift stations being removed will not only save on electricity bills, but also the ongoing maintenance and repairs for the old equipment.

Second referendum

There’s also a second referendum, involving all Winnebago County voters, to pay for mental health purposes. It asks if the county shall impose an increase in its share of the local sales tax by one-half percent for a period not to exceed six years. The increase means a consumer would pay an additional 50 cents in sales tax for every $100 of taxable personal property bought at retail.

The half-percent tax would cease being collected at the end of six years, unless terminated earlier by the county board.

Other contests

Being a presidential preference primary, voters, depending on how they registered will be able to indicate who they would like to see serve as president of the United States over the next four years.

The primary essentially sets the stage for what will come in the Nov. 3 general election.

On the Republican ballot those seeking the GOP nomination include incumbent U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who represents the 17th Congressional District that includes Winnebago and Boone counties.

Incumbent state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, in House District 68, and incumbent Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, out of House District 69, also are running again. And there are competitions among Republicans for the party’s nomination to serve county board districts 9, 11, and 16.

The Democratic ballot has Cheri Bustos seeking her party nomination in Congressional District 17. Dave Vella is running in State House District 68; there is no Democratic candidate in District 69. There is one contest among Democrats seeking election to the county board, in District 17.

Village election

This will be a busy time for elections in Machesney Park.

Voters about one year from now there will decide who serves for the next four years as village president, more commonly known as mayor, a job currently held by Steve Johnson. He initially was elected in 2017.

Village Clerk Lori Mitchell has served in that capacity since 2005 and her term also will be expiring early in 2021. Same is true of a relatively newcomer, Treasurer Bradley Robison, who was elected in 2017.

On the village board the terms of trustees Joe Seipts in District 1; James Kidd in District 3; and Aaron Wilson in District 4 are expiring. Seipts is winding down his first term while Kidd and Wilson are finishing their second terms.


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