Metro-East News

Collinsville voters will decide the fate of debt-ridden park district this November

A measure asking voters if they want to dissolve a local park district is one step closer to appearing on the November ballot, a move that could lower property taxes if approved.

Collinsville Area Recreation District commissioners voted on Wednesday to place the issue on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Collinsville Township Trustee Derrick Keith Cox led the initiative to have the binding referendum placed on the ballot, collecting more than 6,750 signatures from voters in the district, which includes portions of Collinsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, Pontoon Beach and Collinsville Township.

The Madison County Clerk’s office must review the signatures before the issue is officially approved for the ballot. Commissioners have until Aug. 24 to submit the signatures. As of early Thursday afternoon, they had not yet been submitted to the county clerk, said Melissa Hawkins, chief deputy clerk.

The district began winding down its operations in recent years, transferring its parks to Collinsville and Maryville following years of financial woes.

If voters in the district cast their ballots in favor of dissolving the district, taxpayers in the area could see a 25 percent reduction in a portion of their property tax bills, according to area officials.

The city of Collinsville plans to pay for its newly-acquired parks with an increased tax on hotel and motel stays. The village of Maryville recently used two grants to pay for improvements to the parks it acquired.

CARD was established in 1991 and has since accrued more than $21 million in debt. It will take another 20 to 25 years to pay off the remaining debt.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis