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Will Montgomery residents vote to fund roads? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Will Montgomery residents vote to fund roads?
Village to offer property tax rebates if voters OK Nov. 4 referendum

by John Etheredge

5/29/2014

Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley says he is optimistic that village voters will approve the village's request for a one percent non-home rule sales tax this fall.

"If I didn't think it would pass, I probably would not have supported it," Brolley said.

Brolley explained he bases his optimism on the belief that village residents will understand the need to maintain local streets and then vote "yes" on the referendum question placed before them on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"There are people out there in the village who have problems with their streets and would like to see them repaired," he added.

Brolley also mentioned he believes the sales tax is the least burdensome way for the village to increase revenues since the tax would be paid by everyone who shops in village stores, including the many people who live outside village limits.

Referring to the sales tax, Brolley continued, "This is the one way for village residents not to pay the full price (for the street maintenance program). The other option that (village) staff was proposing was a vehicle sticker program-and that was not something we wanted to consider."

Until now the village has relied on state-reimbursed Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) revenues to pay for its annual street maintenance program. However, those annual revenues fall far short of the estimated $1.8 million to $2.2 million the village now requires to fund the program, according to estimates by the village's engineering consultants and staff.

"We were elected here to make good decisions for the future and this is a problem that we have to deal with. We have to find a way to fund our roads. We can't rely on money from the state. We need approximately $2.2 million annually and if we wait for the state, we'll never get it," he said.

According to Brolley, the village cannot rely on annual increases in its sales tax revenues or some other form of "natural" revenue growth to cover the annual cost for the street maintenance program.

"Our total sales tax revenues right now are about $2 million. If we grow 10 percent per year we would be adding about $200,000 per year. But we need an additional $2.2 million on that top of that," he said.

The number of streets requiring maintenance in the village has increased dramatically since 2000 due to the development of several new subdivisions on the village's far west side. According to U.S. Bureau of the Census data, more than half of the village's total population of 17,000 resides in homes built since 2000 which are located west of Orchard Road.

The village's current total sales tax rate is seven percent in the Kane County portion of the village and 7.25 percent in the Kendall County portion. The two rates are lower than the rates currently charged in Oswego (7.75 percent), Aurora (8.25 percent) and Yorkville (8.25 percent).

If voters approve the referendum, the total sales tax rate in stores located in the Kendall County portion of the village will be 8.25 percent, the same as in Aurora and Yorkville. The total sales tax rate in stores in the Kane County portion of the village will be eight percent.

The tax would apply to the purchase of items such as clothing and appliances, but not to groceries, medical related equipment/purchases, or vehicles, according to Jeff Zoephel, village administrator.

The board voted unanimously during a special meeting Thursday morning at village hall to adopt a resolution placing the referendum on the ballot.

The referendum question will read: "Shall the Village of Montgomery, in order to maintain and/or improve the village's roads and public infrastructure, and to avoid the imposition of other taxes and fees impose a one percent sales tax for expenditures on public infrastructure or property tax relief pursuant to state law?"

As a further inducement to encourage village voters to approve the referendum, the board passed an ordinance calling for the village to rebate 15 percent of just the village's share of annual local property tax bills to village property owners for the next five years.

Brolley said funds for the rebates will come from a portion of the revenue generated by the sales tax.

Justin VanVooren, the village's finance director, told the board the amount of the rebates will vary depending upon how much individual property owners will pay to the village each year. He estimated that the owner of a $200,000 home would receive a rebate of about $45 annually from the village.

Brolley said he continues to believe that village residents are overtaxed and the rebates are intended to serve as a sign to residents the village is doing what it can to limit future property tax increases.

When questioned, Brolley confirmed it is possible that the rebates property owners would receive if the referendum is approved may offset a significant portion of the additional amount they will pay in sales taxes each year as they shop in local stores.

"If they spend $100 each week in local stores it (the tax) will cost them $1 more, multiply that by 52 (weeks) and its $52 so its possible they'll get back a good portion of that in their property tax rebate," he said.

Brolley noted Thursday's special meeting was held during the morning at village hall because he wanted all six board members to have the opportunity to vote on the referendum resolution and rebate ordinance. He noted that this past Thursday morning was the only time he could get all six board members together at the same time over the next several weeks.

"It was important that we take action on both of those (issues) sooner, rather than later," he said.

Though as village president Brolley was not asked to vote on either the referendum resolution or rebate ordinance, he told the board he supports both measures.




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