Des Plaines' city council members are throwing their support behind a longtime local business getting a break on its property taxes, but at the same time some are requesting that the company make improvements to its property's exterior.
The council last week unanimously endorsed a Cook County Class 6b tax incentive renewal application for R.G. Smith Equipment Co., a truck body and trailer upfitting business that opened in Des Plaines in 1951.
The company moved to 622 E. Northwest Highway in 2003 and was granted Class 6b status through the Cook County assessor's office, after its former location at 2700 S. Mount Prospect Road was acquired as part of Chicago's O'Hare expansion project,
The 12-year real estate tax incentive allows industrial property to be assessed at 10 percent of its market value for 10 years, saving it about half on its tax bill. The assessment is at 15 percent in the 11th year, and 20 percent in the 12th year. Normally, the property would be assessed at 25 percent of market value.
A municipal resolution supporting Class 6b status is required by the county assessor's office.
R.G. Smith's Class 6B status is due to expire in 2015, and the company is allowed to renew during the final three years of the initial classification.
Patrick Kilmer-Lipinski, an attorney representing R.G. Smith, wrote in a letter to city officials that the property tax break would help the company keep its overhead costs low and grow its new Rapid Wash washing machine manufacturing business.
"Any increase in overhead, such as a great increase in property taxes, could cause financial doom for R.G. Smith," Kilmer-Lipinski wrote.
While acknowledging that property improvements couldn't be a condition of approval of the 6b incentive, 1st Ward Alderman Patricia Haugeberg and 5th Ward Alderman Jim Brookman said they would like to see the company make visual improvements to its property, particularly fencing.
Kilmer-Lipinski told aldermen that the owners are "definitely willing to work with the city in beautifying the property."
Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten, chairman of the city council's community development committee, said he'd like to expand current city programs that offer businesses incentives to improve their exteriors.
"Rand Road is a disaster in my viewpoint, as far as how it looks when people enter the city," Walsten said. "I think we need to do something, and I'm working on it right now as chairman of community development. I want to expand facade programs within the city. This could possibly be one of them, to try to make our city more appealing."