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posted: 8/17/2014 1:01 AM

So far, so good for Mount Prospect's bottom line

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Halfway into 2014, Mount Prospect is trending toward a financial surplus for the current budget year.

Finance Director David Erb told village trustees last week that village revenues are projected $567,500 over expectations. With expenses trending toward $268,000 over budget, that would leave a surplus of $299,500.

Erb also indicated that the village is looking at a possible 4.46 percent increase in the tax levy for 2014, to be collected in 2015.

The final 2013 tax levy was $17.3 million. The preliminary 2014 tax levy would be nearly $18.1 million.

Healthy sales tax receipts are contributing to the boost in revenue so far this year, with some of the increase a result of new businesses.

The higher than anticipated expenses can be traced to legal fees and expenses related to a sprinkler malfunction that flooded portions of village hall earlier in the year.

Although the news was generally positive, there was concern over the dramatic drop -- 27 percent, or $700,000 -- in telecommunications tax receipts. That led to questions from Mayor Arlene Juracek and trustees over how that tax is collected and monitored.

Erb attributed the decline to two factors: the decreased use of home phone lines, and the outcome of a class-action lawsuit against a major telecommunications provider that is forcing the village to return $135,000 in 2014 and 2015.

Trustee Steven Polit asked whether the village was receiving its proper share of taxes from mobile phones.

"I believe we're getting the amount that's due," Erb said. "I just think that the plans for cellular are less, so it's based on gross receipts. It's not on the data portion. It's just on the cellular portion."

Juracek mentioned that she had received an email from a resident asking why the Mount Prospect portion of his telecommunications tax bill was far greater than what the state was collecting. When she went to look at her own Verizon bill, Juracek said, she found in her case the village was getting less.

"I suspect we may have an uneven application of the tax rules from provider to provider," she said.

Erb said the 2015 budget is projected to have a surplus as well, of more than $262,000. That, he said, comes despite the drop in telecommunications tax revenues.

With revenues on the upswing, Trustee Hoefert said he would like to see the village look into a lower levy for 2014.

"I really do think that when revenues are up, especially when we were just reaching into the pockets of the taxpayers in a greater way, there are things you can do with it," he said. "You can spend it. You could save it. Or you can give it back. I'm inclined to give some of this back."

A public hearing for the tax levy is Dec. 2.

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