Carol Stream is one of the few municipalities in Illinois that does not have its own property tax -- and many candidates for village offices regularly campaign on platforms expressing vehement opposition to creating one.
But this election season, one candidate for village board says he favors a local property tax because he believes if residents don't start paying now, their kids will have to in the future.
Angelo Christopher, who is one of four candidates for three open spots on the village board, said Wednesday during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board that he favors levying a property tax to start building up funds that could be used to pay for new village programs.
One idea he's suggested is for the village to purchase undeveloped properties -- particularly along Gary Avenue -- in an effort to bring more retailers to town. He's also in favor of providing financial incentives to businesses that locate in Carol Stream.
Angelo, a member of the village plan commission since 2006 and the commission's chairman since January, said he's trying to think outside the box to look at the big picture. And though the village has a $1.3 million surplus projected in the budget, he says building up more reserves will make things easier in the long run.
He also said residents have told him they would like to do more of their shopping in town.
"We have to think of ways of trying to implement something to give them what they want," Christopher said. "The more you give, the more they appreciate, and they don't mind paying."
Incumbent Trustee Matt McCarthy, first elected to the board in 2003, said the village has to continue to be careful with the money it has to avoid a property tax. He believes taxpayers already are tired of paying their property tax bills as a whole, which includes payments to several different taxing bodies.
"We're not any cheaper than our neighbors. If we put (a property tax) on, it makes it even more expensive," McCarthy said. "The economy is not anywhere near where it needs to be and people can't afford it."
Rick Gieser, a village trustee from 2003 to 2011 who lost the election for village president in 2011, said Carol Stream should strive to continue to avoid a property tax. The fact the village is projecting a surplus shows not having a tax is "a doable thing," he said.
"We're projecting that revenues are above budget and expenditures are below budget. That's a good sign. How many other governmental bodies can do that?" Gieser said.
John LaRocca, a 20-year resident of Carol Stream and wastewater superintendent for Roselle, said it would be in the best interest of the community to avoid a property tax, but didn't want to go so far as to say it wouldn't be implemented one day.
"We will work hard to keep it as it is, but to say we'll never have a property tax is not really accurate," LaRocca said.