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Oswego Fire District won’t seek full referendum recount; expected to try again in fall

The Oswego Fire Protection District will not seek a full recount for its tax increase referendum, which failed by one vote in the June 28 primary election.

Instead, the district’s Board of Trustees is expected to vote on Aug. 8 to make a third attempt and place the question on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The Kendall County Clerk conducted a discovery recount on Aug. 1, which allowed representatives from the fire district to observe as employees of the clerk’s elections office hand-counted the paper ballots from nine of the district’s 40 precincts.

“The numbers were spot on,” Oswego Fire Chief John Cornish said. “We examined the ballots one-by-one. At the end of the day, there wasn’t anything to discover.”

Present for the procedure were Cornish, firefighter’s union President Rob Carpenter, board Trustee Ken Holmstrom, and district attorney Jim Wargo.

Under the rules of a discovery recount, the fire district was allowed to seek an examination of up to 25% of the district’s voting precincts.

Had the discovery recount produced any irregularities, the fire district could have taken the information before a judge to ask for a recount of all the ballots.

Cornish, who complimented County Clerk Debbie Gillette and her staff for their work in conducting the partial recount, said that with everything in order, there was no point in seeking a full recount.

The chief predicted that the fire district board will put the question on the fall ballot.

“The board will make the decision if were are going to move forward,” Cornish said. “I believe they will. It’s too close. It’s too important.”

The fire referendum question was seeking a 0.10% increase in the district’s property tax rate.

Currently, the owner of a home valued at $300,000 pays about $600 in property taxes to the fire district. If the referendum were approved, that same homeowner would see a increase of about $99 to the annual tax bill.

The June 28 referendum was the second attempted by the fire district over the past 14 months. Voters narrowly rejected the district’s tax hike request in an April 2021 referendum.

But the second try was as close as it could possibly be, with a one-vote margin of defeat.

Voters cast 4,149 ballots in favor of the tax-increase referendum and 4,150 against it, according to unofficial vote totals.

The sprawling fire protection district which covers a 53-square-mile area of northeast Kendall County and northwestern Will County.

The district includes all of the village of Oswego and unincorporated Boulder Hill, along with portions of Montgomery, Yorkville and Plainfield.

On election night, the referendum appeared to have failed by 10 votes, although it was ahead by three votes in the Kendall County portion of the district.

However, a tiny portion of the district extends into Will County. There, 17 voters cast ballots against the referendum and four voted yes, resulting in what appeared to be a 10-vote defeat.

A subsequent count of provisional mail-in ballots July 12 narrowed the gap to one vote.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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