Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik encouraged residents to shop locally and avoid buying things on the internet so the village can continue to thrive during her state of the village address Wednesday night.
The village of Gurnee does not collect property taxes, making the sales tax revenues all the more important for village services, Kovarik told the crowd of Gurnee Chamber of Commerce members at Bittersweet Golf Club, as well as the people watching her speech via Facebook Live.
Kovarik said the village would continue to make smart decisions that help local businesses but warned that Gurnee businesses were under attack because more people choose to do their shopping on the internet.
"We get no sales tax on internet transactions," Kovarik said. "The only way these businesses thrive is for all of us to shop local, they can't survive on just tourism."
Kovarik said the village wouldn't be able to overcome an increase in internet shopping.
"I do it, too, but only after I absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can't find it in the village," Kovarik said. "I need all of you to remind your friends and families that there is a direct correlation between internet shopping and the quality of services and property taxes."
Kovarik said if the village didn't have the $17.5 million that comes from sales tax to rely on, they would have to implement a property tax rate that would cost someone who owned a $300,000 home $1,600 in property taxes.
"Think about that, you are doing nothing more than choosing to shop local and paying pennies on the dollar in sales tax, and that avoids $1,600 in property tax to support the exceptional services we enjoy and expect in this community," Kovarik said.
Despite the looming threat of online shopping, there was good news for Kovarik to share. In 2014, Gurnee's village board voted to increase sales tax by a half percentage point and pledged that revenue would go toward critical infrastructure projects. Kovarik announced Wednesday that since then, the small tax increase had generated the village $10.5 million.
"We've seen all those dollars invested in infrastructure projects that improve our village that would not have been possible without the support of our residents, businesses and visitors who love this area," Kovarik said. "These funds are a direct result of shopping local. The more you shop local, the more the village can invest back into the community."