Planning for the future or spending for now?
That was the question slowing a decision on how to make $2.1 million in budget changes at the latest Naperville City Council meeting.
Council is considering raising the home rule sales tax from .5 percent to .75 percent in order to prevent a property tax increase. They say this would take some of the tax burden off residents by sharing it with out-of-town shoppers.
But some council members and residents say the tax may be too much – even though council says Naperville’s sales tax would be lower than surrounding communities.
“Our motto isn’t ‘The City of Naperville: We’re no worse than the other guys,’” resident Jim Hill said.
Council turned to talk about the cost of borrowing instead of raising taxes.
“If we would borrow that in lieu of doing something else, what will that cost down the line?” Councilwoman Becky Anderson asked.
Some members then voiced concerns about whether the city’s plan to reduce its debt by 25 percent by 2023 is still feasible.
“I think we need to be mindful that when we are borrowing for capital funds we are borrowing to fund the future,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Boyd-Obarsky.
In response, Councilman John Krummen said, “I’m an anti-debt kind of guy. I believe our debt before was $120 million and our current debt stands at about $106 million, so I like the direction of paying down the debt.”
Council eventually voted to table the issue in order to get a long-term outlook on the city’s budget and debt moving forward.
“I am in favor of or willing to vote to raise the home rule sales tax an extra quarter provided I’m assured this is the path to solve this,” Obarsky said.
For the increase to take effect by July 1, the city must notify the state of any changes by April 1. Council will revisit the tax increase at the first meeting in March.
If the council does make the change, the city portion of the average property tax bill would be $810 – the lowest rate since 1996.
Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.
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