Two of the three Bartlett mayoral candidates say they'll thoroughly review the need for the village's new utility taxes if elected, while the third says she believes the taxes are, reluctantly, the right thing to do.
Former Bartlett Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kevin Wallace said he would want to reexamine the new electric utility tax and gas utility tax, which were put into effect last June. Together they cost each household about $85 per year, with seniors getting a $30 rebate.
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Wallace said he's not convinced Bartlett's bond rating would be reduced if the village eliminated the taxes and instead took money out of its cash reserves.
The taxes are expected to bring in an extra $1.6 million in annual revenue.
Wallace, who also serves on the village's economic development commission, said he wishes it would have been better explained to residents why "it was absolutely necessary at this economic time" to institute the utility taxes.
"I think that clarity of communication with residents is a hard thing and it can be improved," Wallace said during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board Tuesday.
Current Trustee Patricia Kelly said during the interview she felt she got the information she needed from village staff to make a decision on the taxes.
"It wasn't something we took lightly," she said, adding that she considers the taxes "a necessary evil."
Kelly, who was one of four trustees who voted yes to the budget that included the taxes, said the alternative would have been to take money out of the village's reserves, which she said could have hurt the village's AA1 bond rating.
Ted Lonis, a credit manager for Illinois Tool Works, said in a separate endorsement interview that when the village board eliminated vehicle stickers but added the utility taxes, the board was targeting "the things you have that you can't drive away from."
Lonis said he has talked to plenty of residents who said they felt the decision to tax utilities was "pretty rotten."
"I'm totally against (the taxes)," he said, adding that he would like a lot more data on why they were needed.
Whether he would eliminate the utility taxes, however, would depend on the results of his research, and whether he would have support on the board to do it.