City council members recently discussed ways to divide money coming in from Naperville’s food and beverage tax.
The city’s Special Events and Cultural Amenities or SECA, fund brought in more than $2.5 million last fiscal year. The money will continue to grow, exceeding expectations of city council members.
The group discussed ways to divide SECA funds at a recent workshop.
Till now, .25% of that money has been set aside each year for the city’s general fund. But at a recent forum, the city council unofficially agreed to use that money to pay off the city’s police and fire pension obligations.
“We are solving this problem with revenue on hand. We are not going out looking for more money. This saves Naperville taxpayers money and it keeps it off their property tax bill,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “We’re shaving this down to 14 years, that’s outstanding.”
In less than 20 years, the plan could save taxpayers $65 million.
Becky Anderson serves as the Cultural Advisory Commissioner. “It is nationwide, and this is an initiate and problem that people really do have to solve because I’m sure in some other communities and other states around this country, a lot of people won’t be able to receive the pensions they had been promised,” said Anderson. “So I think we should be pretty proud here in Naperville that this can solve it.”
Since 2004, the city’s one percent food and beverage tax has been the source for SECA funding which provides money to support local organizations that help celebrate the city’s diversity, culture, and heritage.
“Let’s always keep that core of what SECA is supposed to be about and that is promoting cultural and special events in the city because it enriches everything and it brings a lot of other people to town,” Anderson said.
The council also agreed to cap future SECA grant funding at $2.5 million and will spend the extra dollars on other amenities like social services in the community.
“So that we can stop what has happened over the years where you have projects chasing the money so the money keeps growing and the money is available,” said councilman Kenn Miller.
SECA fund applicants that host their events in Naperville will be favored by council and could possibly be allotted more SECA money, promoting the idea of shopping locally.
SECA fund changes are expected to be implemented for fiscal year 2014 which begins May 1st.
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