Proposed Vernon Hills budget hikes spending 9.4 percent

Village spending will increase in Vernon Hills' next budget year under a proposal that includes several major infrastructure projects and the inclusion of a special financing district for the Mellody Farm development at the northeast corner of routes 60 and 21.

A public hearing on the proposed $49.7 million budget is scheduled at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, before the regular village board meeting at village hall, 290 Evergreen Drive.

Officials previously discussed the budget at two work sessions, and it is available online at

"The main thing, and we've hit it really hard, is the Mellody Farm TIF (tax increment financing district). It's the first year of that budget," Finance Director Nikki Larson said.

Total expenditures in the proposed spending plan include $18 million for development-related costs associated with Mellody Farm, a mix of apartments and a retail center anchored by Whole Foods.

After 18 months of discussion, the Regency Centers plan was approved early this year and a $20 million incentive authorized. Besides buildings, the project involves significant upgrades at and surrounding the congested Route 21/60 intersection.

The village in May plans to borrow $20 million by issuing bonds. Of that, $18 million will be put in escrow for distribution to Regency on a "pay as you go" basis as project elements hit benchmarks, Larson said.

Besides those payments, proposed 2017-18 spending is up 9.4 percent from last year.

"That's mostly for capital projects," Larson said. "It varies from year to year."

Topping the list is $1 million for road resurfacing. There also is $750,000 budgeted for engineering and land acquisition associated with planned improvements at Lakeview Parkway and Fairway Drive.

The budget also includes $350,000 as a "placeholder" for the potential repurposing of a portion of village hall, as the Vernon Hills Park District is leaving the village-owned Laschen Center for new facilities.

The center hosts about 150 meetings for scouts, homeowner associations and other groups every year, Larson said. Village officials have to decide what to do with the aging building, which originally was a golf course clubhouse and later village hall.

Including the bond sale, revenues are estimated $50.5 million. Other than the bonds, revenue has increased 3.4 percent. Estimated at about $10.8 million, sales tax is considered to be flat for budgeting purposes.

"It's based on the trends we're seeing in the marketplace," as online purchases increase, Larson said.

According to the budget, amusement taxes are up with a strong showing from the AMC theater at Hawthorn Mall. However, proceeds from a quarter percent home rule sales tax established to offset an incentive for mall improvements is below projections.

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