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Montgomery voters to decide street funding : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Montgomery voters to decide street funding

In a unanimous ballot last week the Montgomery Village Board voted to place a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot asking village voters to approve a one percent non-home rule sales tax to fund the village's annual street maintenance program.

The village's engineering consultants have advised the board the village will require an additional $1.8 million to $2.3 million annually to maintain local streets in the years ahead. 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.

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 the referendum is approved, the village's total sales tax rate in the Kendall County portion of the village would be 8.25 percent and eight percent in the Kane County portion.

If the referendum is approved, village officials have estimated the one percent sales tax will generate approximately $1.7 million in additional revenue for the village annually.

Village residents and anyone else who shops in village stores would pay an extra $1 on every purchase of $100. Importantly, the tax will not apply to groceries, medical related equipment purchases, or vehicles.

Board members agreed to seek voter approval of a sales tax increase after considering other funding options. All of the other options-including a vehicle sticker program-involved village residents bearing the full burden of funding the street maintenance program. In deciding to seek passage of a sales tax referendum, board members noted the burden of paying the sales tax would be borne not only by village residents who shop in village stores, but also by the large number of residents who live in neighboring communities who also shop in local stores. In particular village officials expect the new Sam's Club store, which will open this summer on U.S. Route 30, will attract a significant number of shoppers from throughout the area.

Passage of the referendum should help assure that village streets are maintained in good condition for years to come. But to provide village residents with an additional incentive to vote yes on the referendum, the board also passed a resolution calling for the village to rebate 15 percent of the village portion of annual property tax bills back to village residents for the next five years. Village property owners would begin receiving their first rebate check beginning next year. The amounts of the rebates will vary, but village staff has estimated the rebate on a village home valued at $200,000 would be about $45 annually. Funds for the rebates will come out of the revenues generated by non-Home Rule sales tax.

We applaud the board for unanimously acknowledging they have a responsibility to do what they can to maintain the public infrastructure for current and future generations of village residents. We also support the board's effort to provide the additional revenue the village will require in the years ahead to maintain local streets. Now it will be up to village voters this fall to decide if well maintained streets are worth the extra expense of paying slightly more on some purchases when they shop in local stores.

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