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updated: 12/4/2013 6:35 PM

Carpentersville replaces vehicle stickers with sales tax hike

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Carpentersville leaders eliminated the village's vehicle sticker program Tuesday and replaced it with a one-half percent hike in the sales tax, an increase that retires in three years.

The increase brings Carpentersville's sales tax to 9 percent, which officials won't start collecting until July 1, 2014. Locally, that figure ties Carpentersville with most of East Dundee, which charges the same tax in 95 percent of its village. But Carpentersville is still lower than the Cook County portion of Elgin, which charges a 9.25 percent sales tax.

A tiny sliver of East Dundee, the Kane County portion of Elgin and retail-heavy Algonquin and West Dundee charge less sales tax than Carpentersville. The money generated will go toward the village's general fund.

Village President Ed Ritter doesn't fear a mass exodus of people bypassing Carpentersville to shop in towns with lower sales tax rates. He also pointed out that the village rolled back its 2 cent gas tax increase earlier this year that would have generated $240,000 in annual revenue.

"I don't think we're going to lose a lot of customers because on a $100 purchase it costs you more gas to drive to Algonquin than it would be to pay the 50 cents," Ritter said.

Carpentersville officials estimate the increase would generate $960,000 annually, replacing the $550,000 in revenue the village collects from the vehicle stickers.

Officials said the stickers overburden the staff members who issue them and collect payments, make enforcement difficult among residents with garages and add one more thing to police officers' plates.

"It turns our police department into tax enforcers," Trustee Kevin Rehberg said.

The board voted 5 to 1 to eliminate the program and replace it with the temporary sales tax hike, with Trustee Kay Teeter casting the lone dissenting vote.

Teeter accused the rest of the board of not looking out for small businesses, some of whom she said could close before the increase sunsets.

"This is not the time to take it away," Teeter said of the sticker program.

A pair of small business owners also spoke out against the increase.

While Platt Hill, owner of Platt Hill Nursery in Carpentersville and Bloomingdale, said the sales tax is one more thing for him worry about, it won't force him to leave the village, where he's had his business for 15 years.

"I do appreciate the difficulties they have in running their community, balancing their budgets and paying for their services," Hill said in a later interview. "(But) it is one more burden and a little bit like the fable of the straw that breaks the camel's back. You don't know when that straw is going to come but if you keep adding straws, you do reach that point."

Tammi Rojek, owner of Trendy Tots Consignment Shop, said the village should reward the small companies that have stayed in town and offer incentives to bring more businesses to town, rather than, in her view, penalizing existing businesses with a higher sales tax.

"My lease will be up in less than a year and I will have to decide then whether to stay here in Carpentersville or move to another village," Rojek told the board before Tuesday's vote. "If you go ahead and vote this sales tax raise through, you will have made my choice for me."

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