Referendum: Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About the November 6 Referendum

On August 15, 2018, the Harper Board of Trustees voted to place a referendum on the November 6, 2018, ballot so voters can have the final say in approving the plan that the community developed for the future of their college. ​Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the referendum.

What projects will be supported by the referendum?  

The projects supported by the referendum include:  

  • A new building to support regional economic development and to house our University Center partnerships (Priority 1) 
  • Modernization of facilities to better train skilled workers and support innovation (Priority 2) 
  • Maintain and replace infrastructure critical to safety, such as roofs, electrical and plumbing, as well as investments in technology (Priority 3)  

What does the $180 million fund?  

The $180 million would fund capital projects, including a new building, modernization of facilities, and maintenance to infrastructure. It would not support operations. The breakdown is:  

  • $28.5M for Priority 1 
  • $88.7M for Priority 2 
  • $62.8M for Priority 3 

Who decided these projects were important?  

A task force made up of community members developed the priorities and projects. Feedback was then solicited through a series of community nights where the priorities and projects were discussed in detail. All 23 communities in Harper’s district participated in those feedback sessions. 

How can Harper raise $180 million through passage of this ballot issue without raising taxes? 

Existing bonds from the year 2000 are due to be paid off in 2020. At that time, property taxes would decrease by approximately $23 for a $250,000 house. If voters approve this new bond issue, the College could replace those bonds and taxes would stay the same. Thus, Harper can raise an estimated $180 million without raising taxes. 

  • Approximately $10 for a $125,000 house
  • Approximately $23 for a $250,000 house
  • Approximately $48 for a $500,000 house

Could my taxes still go up?  

Yes, it’s possible that your taxes could go up based on other factors not related to this referendum, such as the assessed value of your home, or the taxes related to other schools, your library or park districts. What’s important to remember is that if this referendum passes, the dollars we currently collect from you for these capital project bonds will remain the same. 

What will it say on the ballot?  

“Shall the Board of Trustees of William Rainey Harper Community College District No. 512, Counties of Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry and State of Illinois, acquire real property, build and equip new buildings, build and equip additions to and alter, equip, repair and renovate existing buildings of the District and issue the bonds of said Community College not to exceed $180,000,000 for said purposes?

What happens if the ballot issue does not pass on November 6? Would you try another referendum? Will you raise tuition? 

Since this is a community-driven plan, Harper College would return to the community and the College’s Board of Trustees to develop alternatives to addressing plan priorities. Without funding provided by the bond renewal, plans would likely need to be scaled, revised or deferred to a later date. 

If it doesn’t pass, how will it affect my taxes?  

If the ballot issue doesn’t pass, property taxes would decrease by approximately $23 for the owner of a $250,000 house once the bonds are retired in 2020.  

How soon would construction start? How soon would bonds be sold?  

Bonds could be sold as early as 2020 with construction starting approximately 2-3 years from now.