Hours before vote, objection filed to new Elk Grove taxing districts

Two new special service areas - formally approved by Elk Grove Village trustees Tuesday night - are in limbo after unincorporated residents and business owners turned in a formal objection to their creation just hours before the vote.

The property owners in and around the Roppolo subdivision in unincorporated Elk Grove Township had 60 days after a Dec. 13 public hearing to challenge the creation of the new taxing districts.

The petition was submitted to the village clerk's office at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

But three hours later, the board - as part of its routine consent agenda and without debate - approved a set of ordinances establishing the special taxing districts.

It's likely the matter, which involves many of the same players of a long-running but now-settled annexation dispute, also ends up in court.

"We have to look at the signatures. This is a first," said Village Attorney George Knickerbocker, adding that the village hasn't previously established a special service area during his 52 years in the job.

The so-called SSAs would pay for fire and emergency medical services in an area now covered by the Elk Grove Rural Fire Protection District. That includes 57 single-family homes in the Roppolo neighborhood north of Landmeier Road, four mobile home parks along Touhy Avenue and Elmhurst Road, and several industrial and commercial properties on either side of Higgins Road.

A 2021 intergovernmental agreement inked by Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect and Des Plaines called for their municipal fire departments to service the area, three special taxing districts to be set up to fund the towns' costs, and for the eventual wind-down of the nearly-insolvent fire protection district.

But the district's elected board never signed off on the deal, while its attorneys have proposed amendments during ongoing negotiations with Mount Prospect officials.

Elk Grove Rural board President Carlos Maldonado called Elk Grove Village's vote Tuesday night to set up two taxing districts - and Mount Prospect's similar August 2022 action to establish the first one - a "unilateral decision."

Maldonado acknowledged SSAs eventually may be the way to go, and that it wouldn't be a matter of "if, but when" the district is dissolved amid its shrinking tax base due to the towns' increasing annexations.

But he said he wants an agreement where the municipalities are able to collect enough money to cover their costs, while property owners aren't overburdened by higher taxes at the same time.

"What we want to do is make sure to the degree that we can negotiate something that will help all the residents whether they are commercial or residential without levying additional taxes on them," Maldonado said.

The arrangement would amount to a 5.27% tax levy increase for property owners, comparing what they pay the fire district now to what they would pay in the special service areas.

He also noted residents would still have to approve dissolution of the district via referendum.

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