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Montgomery president: sales tax vote 'best option' : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Montgomery president: sales tax vote 'best option'
Brolley notes need for additional revenues in 'State of the Village' address

by John Etheredge


Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley told a large gathering of village residents and area public officials this past week he believes passage of a sales tax referendum is the best option for the village to pay for its annual street maintenance program and other needed infrastructure improvements.

In this first "State of the Village" address at village hall last Thursday, Brolley said the village should be spending approximately $2 million each year to maintain local streets, but has only been able to budget about $650,000 annually for the past decade due to a lack of funding.

Brolley said the village board needs to find a way to increase its street maintenance budget so that the village can protect property values and provide safe streets for travel.

"After considering many alternatives, I believe our best option is to ask voters to approve a non-home rule sales tax to help pay for road maintenance and other infrastructure throughout the community," Brolley said.

He noted that a one percent increase in the village's sales tax would add a $1 tax to every $100 consumers spend on durable goods only. The tax would not be imposed on the purchase of groceries, medical equipment or professional services, Brolley added.

Brolley said he would prefer an increase in the sales tax over a property tax increase which would place all of the burden of financing the village's street maintenance to village property owners only.

Referring to the sales tax, he said, "It would allow us to collect taxes from people outside of our community who shop at our stores and travel on our roads."

Brolley, however, noted the decision to place a sales tax referendum on the ballot will be subject to the review and approval of the village board.

"I can't speak for the village board, but I would personally like to say I am in favor of moving forward with this initiative rather than raising property taxes," he said, adding, "This is something that the village board will be discussing in the coming months, because our roads are certainly a priority and we need to adequately fund their maintenance."

Brolley told the audience that contractors for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) should complete two major projects in the village by this fall: the widening and reconstruction of U.S. Route 30 between Briarcliff Road and Goodwin Drive, and the reconstruction of the Route 30 and Ill. Route 31 interchange.

As those projects proceed this year, Brolley said he believes it important that village officials continue to work with IDOT in planning for the widening of Route 30 to five lanes from Route 31 west to Ill. Route 47.

"Approximately half of our population lives west of Orchard Road, and this is an important item for our residents," he said.

"We will also continue to advocate for a future extension of commuter rail service through Montgomery and into Kendall County. We have been working with Metra as they look at options for this extension and a future Metra station in Montgomery. This is an important project that will help ease congestion on our area highways by providing additional mass transit options for the region," Brolley said.

Looking back at the past year in municipal government, Brolley noted the village approved a 584 acre TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district along sections of Aucutt and Orchard roads. Work on the TIF proceeded during 2013 and the board gave its final approval last month.

In developing plans for the TIF, Brolley said village officials worked with property owners and other taxing districts "to ensure that the TIF is successful while protecting everyone's needs.

"The TIF will be used to fund infrastructure and other improvements that will enable (business) development in that area of Montgomery," Brolley said, adding, "We looking forward to using this new TIF district as an economic development tool to benefit the village."

Brolley also singled out the completion of the first phase of the village's water main system improvement project in the unincorporated Boulder Hill Subdivision as another highlight for the village during 2013.

He noted the $8 million project is being completed in three phases over a three-year period and has required the cooperation of the village board and Oswego Township officials. The project includes the installation of 12,000 feet of new water main.

"I would like to thank Oswego Township officials and especially Highway Commissioner Gary Grosskopf for his cooperation with the village on this project, as well as the many other agencies and residents that were involved," Brolley said.

Brolley also noted that village residents alerted village officials to problems that the board is now seeking to correct.

Emergency siren, railroad
quiet zone also on agenda

He noted that last summer residents from some subdivisions on the village's far west side notified the village they could not hear the village's emergency warning sirens as a major storm approached.

"This led to a series of discussions about the issue as we researched various options to provide better coverage throughout the community," Brolley said, adding, "As a result, we have included funds for an additional weather warning siren in the upcoming budget. The safety of our residents is a top priority and the board is anxious to take action on this item."

Brolley said funding is also being proposed in the village's new fiscal year budget for a required study to determine the feasibility of establishing a railroad quiet zone in the village's downtown area. The board is expected to adopt the new budget in April, prior to the start of the new fiscal year May 1.

He noted that the number of trains now traveling the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's mainline tracks through the village has increased in recent years as have concerns voiced by downtown area residents about train horn noise.

Brolley, however, cautioned that as village officials work on the new budget they will have to "weigh and consider various requests for funding to see if we can continue forward with this project."

In local business news, Brolley acknowledged the village suffered some setbacks in 2013 with the closing of the Applebee's restaurant and the pending closures of Kmart in the Settlers Landing shopping center.

"While it is disappointing to have those longtime businesses close, we also know that these vacancies create the opportunity to attract new stores and restaurants," he said.

Brolley noted there was some positive local business news in 2013.

He said when the Performance Food Group purchased Fox River Foods, they repaid a prior village economic development loan. He said the village, in turn, was able to re-invest those funds to support a $24 million expansion by Butterball, which created 100 new local jobs.

Brolley added that village officials are also excited at the opening of Sam's Club in the Ogden Hill shopping center at Routes 30 and 34 later this year.

"This will be the first Sam's Club in Kendall County and in addition to the benefit provided to area shoppers, it will create at least 150 new jobs," he said.

On another positive economic note, Brolley said the number of home foreclosures in the village "has decreased by 36 percent from where we were last January."

"Considerable (village) staff time has been spent monitoring properties that have become vacant to ensure that they are properly maintained, and the grass is cut so that they don't become eyesores in the neighborhood," he noted.

Referring to the drop in foreclosures, he said, "This is a very good sign for the future."

Among those in attendance at village hall to hear Brolley were Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, Kane County Board members Jesse Vazquez and Jennifer Laesch, Kendall County Board member Matt Prochaska, State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, and representatives from the offices of State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville.

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