Deer Park approves tax for road repairs
Deer Park voters Tuesday bucked the trend of anti-tax sentiment this election season to approve a plan to improve village roads with a higher sales tax.
Residents of the largely Lake County community voted 654 to 332 in favor of the tax-hike proposal unofficials vote totals showed.
Village President Bob Kellermann, while always confident about the referendum's cause, found the outcome "humbling."
"The village is now unified," Kellermann said Tuesday night. "It's a vote of confidence for the entire board that we're moving in the right direction. We were completely honest with the people, and secondly we had a plan."
Officials proposed back in August that Deer Park raise its share of local sales tax by a quarter of a percent to raise an estimated $400,000 more per year toward a projected $11 million road repair effort.
Shoppers in Deer Park currently pay 7 percent sales tax, of which only 1 percent is kept locally. Most of this revenue is generated by sales at the Deer Park Town Center.
Roads are a critical issue in Deer Park right now because most were built in the 1970s and are nearly 10 years past their optimal replacement time, Kellermann said.
While this has been a time of strong public skepticism toward government in general and higher taxes in particular, Kellermann believed the past two winters had made it clear to the general public just how badly in need of repairs the village's roads were.
Kellermann expressed confidence throughout the past two months that residents would act on this and come to the aid of the roads they drive on every day.
There was much discussion and debate among board members before the referendum question was settled on, however. Trustees favored a sales tax increase over a property tax.
Kellerman said bids will likely be solicited later this fall while contractor rates are low, even though the village won't actually receive the money until work is likely to start next summer.