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Property Tax Rebate Comes Around for New Lenox

After increasing the amount of property taxes the village gives back to residents last year, trustees showed support in boosting the rebate to 55 percent. The rebate means an average of $150 for homeowners.

With a goal of eventually rebating 100 percent of property taxes, the Village's Committee of the Whole discussed yet another increase in the amount of money it gives back to residents.

Since the village became a home-rule municipality a few years ago, officials have kept a promise to reduce its portion of property tax. Last year the village rebated 50 percent of property taxes to eligible residents, but on Monday the board showed support for a 55 percent rebate. 

Mayor Tim Baldermann said the ability to rebate the property taxes is "telling us that we're continuing to run conservatively here."  

When the village asked residents to give it home rule status in 2008, thus increasing sales tax by 1 percent, officials promised to rebate 33 percent of residents' property tax bills.

In 2010, the first year of rebates, the village went above that promise and refunded 40 percent of property taxes. In the program's second year, that increased to half the property tax dollars collected.

Baldermann said that ultimately, the Village Board's goal is to rebate 100 percent of property taxes. Last year, . 

Applications for the rebate are expected to mailed to homeowners this month, and the deadline for submission is Dec. 14. Homeowners must provide a picture of the front and back sides of their driver's license along with the application.

Architectural designs for new police station reviewed      

The Committee of the Whole narrowed down the architectural designs proposed by Oak Brook's FGM Architects for the construction of the new police station.

The Committee of the Whole reviewed several plans for the outside design of the planned $9.5 million New Lenox Police Station. Out of four options, village trustees selected the basics of a red brick design with red brick columns.

The committee discussed a combination of an all-brick front view as well as one that called for the integration of a wrap of limestone around the bottom. The committee directed the architects to prepare plans for both variations.

Trustee David Smith addressed concerns about future maintenance liabilities with a limestone wrap around the bottom of the building.

 The question was put to Public Works Director Ron Sly, who said a power wash every couple years would work. Smith noted that various sealants would also minimize the need for power washing.

As for the view from the rear of the building, the committee was attracted to a specific red brick design but sought prices for a pattern that features a limestone wrap around the bottom and another with a limestone wrap around the mid-section.

Architectural plans also provided a glimpse of the two detention ponds to capture water run-off from the building and the parking lot. The ponds are designed to hold the water temporarily. Eventually it will drain toward the creek.  

Smith broached the idea of using the more ecologically sustainable permeable pavers in the parking lot. They are more expensive upfront, but they save money in the long term, he added. "They've been doing it in Europe for years." When the lot needs significant maintenance, "all you have to do is pick up the pavers, level the ground and lay them back down. You don't have to break up the concrete."

 The architects agreed that permeable pavers were a better ecological option.  The committee directed FGM to return next month with a fact sheet that details the cost and savings on the use of permeable pavers.

Fencing ordinance up for review

Warren Rendleman, building and zoning administrator, suggested that the committee consider revising the fencing ordinance. Having been approached by a resident who lives on a corner lot and wants to build a 4-foot fence around the front yard, he saw the merits of the proposal. However, the existing ordinance would prohibit it.

Robin Ellis, village development director, noted that a specific ordinance change could pose problems, depending on the layout of neighboring properties. A fence could make it difficult for a neighbor backing out of a driveway. Meanwhile, committee members were concerned that a solid fence might pose a visibility problem as motorists enter the intersection.

The suggestion that seemed to be most acceptable was to craft an ordinance that allowed fencing designs, such as rod iron. "You can see through those," added Smith.

Ellis and Trustee Annette Bowden agreed that the language of the ordinance had to include stipulations that demanded staff approval to ensure safety for motorist and neighbors.

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