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updated: 8/7/2012 1:04 PM

Tax rebate coming for downtown Wheaton

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Wheaton taxpayers in a special taxing district that expired earlier this year can expect to receive a rebate.

A special service area that dissolved April 30 was a major funding source for the Downtown Wheaton Association, a group charged with promoting the central business district.

City officials reviewed the association's financial statements and found $94,408 in excess funds from Special Service Area #6 that will be refunded to taxpayers. The Wheaton City Council unanimously approved the rebate Monday night.

"I think we would be hard-pressed to find any taxpayer in the SSA that has a problem with this," Councilman Todd Scalzo said. "This is a good, rare day."

Property owners within the special service area were taxed 95 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value -- more than the 45 cents per $100 owners pay for a new special service area established in December.

The DWA sponsors events year-round aimed at boosting the profile of downtown businesses and spurring foot traffic, including a chili cook-off among downtown restaurants, a sidewalk sale and the Vintage Rides car show.

Councilwoman Jeanne Ives on Monday also called for more detail in the DWA's financial statements presented to the council and compiled by Wheaton-based Mathieson, Moyski, Celer & Co., a firm whose principal also serves on the DWA's board of directors. In its cover letter accompanying its compilation, the firm wrote, "We are not independent with respect to Downtown Wheaton Association."

"Since this is (mostly) tax money, I'd like to know how that's broken out a little bit better," Ives said.

Frank Kohout, a DWA board member, said the group is looking at compiling records in a different way.

"We are constantly trying to update our accounting practices to provide more detail not only for the city council but for the board of the directors of the DWA and the members," Kohout said.

Under a seven-year agreement between the city and DWA approved in May, the city can inspect and audit the financial records with 48-hour notice to the nonprofit corporation.

"I think the sentiment was that we wanted more of an accounting," Councilwoman Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti said. "We wanted to be able to supervise matters a bit more than in the past."

The 2012-2013 budget for the DWA, also approved in May, estimates the city will funnel about $125,400 in tax increment financing funds to the association in addition to the funds from the new special service area.

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