Following the news that New Lenox is planning to increase its utility and sales taxes to help pay for major capital improvement projects, Mayor Tim Baldermann said he got questions from a number of residents.
The mayor and the rest of the Village Board took the time to further explain the plans for $27 million in capital improvements, including a new police station and public works facility, the extension of Nelson Road and a 20-year plan for side street repairs.
"We have an obligation to see beyond tomorrow," Baldermann said during the Sept. 12 meeting. "This is the absolute best time to do it. We are setting ourselves up for the future."
The village would increase its sales tax by a 1/2 a cent, bringing the total rate to 8.5 percent, and also increase its utility tax 5 percent on gas and electric. That would bring in an additional $2.9 million in annual revenue for the village, which would fund an annual $1.7 million bond payment for the projects and a $1.1 million annual payment for repairs to side streets.
Board members said the average resident would still see savings each year, despite the tax increases, because of savings from the village eliminating car and pet tags, $174 in savings for lower electric bills through the and continued 40 percent property tax rebates.
A few residents voiced concerns and asked questions during the meeting. Rich Gamen and Robert Buonadonna both said that, despite enjoying the savings from the electricity aggregation, they feel a new tax on utilities reduces promised savings.
“You giveth with this hand, and the government taketh away with the other hand," Buonadonna said. "Nobody wants to pay any more taxes. There are many people still struggling."
Baldermann said the village looked at every source of revenue to determine what would bring in the needed money and have the smallest overall impact on residents’ wallets. Utilities and sales taxes were chosen in part because non-residents foot some of the bill. Utility tax increase will also be paid by commercial entities, and out-of-town shoppers will contribute to the sales tax.
The mayor recognized that the public won't always see the benefits of new buildings, but said .
“I think we’ve made tremendous strides to do what’s right for the community and show them we care about New Lenox not only today but also in the future," Baldermann said.
The village is still considering various land options for the new buildings, but the board expects to approve the financing during its next meeting, which is at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, at .