Elburn to keep 'plugging away' after sales-tax-increase loss

 
 
Updated 3/16/2016 4:57 PM

Residents' refusal Tuesday to increase the sales tax in Elburn won't cause any last-minute changes in the proposed village budget leaders are being presented Monday night.

That's not to say they may not ultimately feel the effects of their decision.

 

"From a staff perspective, we will just keep plugging away" on providing services with essentially the same amount of revenue, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

The extra sales tax could have, however, cushioned the village from the delay or loss of state money. Such as when the state decided last year to withhold a month's worth ­-- and the largest month's worth, at that --­ of gas tax money. Those funds support such street department functions as buying road salt, patching potholes and paving roads and sidewalks.

Although the 1 percentage point increase in sales tax was initially proposed as a way to cover some of the cost of police pensions, technically the money would have gone in to the general fund, not the police pension fund.

The general fund pays for the administration, police and streets departments. Sanitary sewer and water utilities are paid by customer charges.

Village officials had said they would implement the sales-tax increase in quarter-point increments during the next four years. It would have applied to general merchandise, and not to food, medicine, some medical supplies, and titled or registered vehicles.

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The measure lost by 18 votes, with 701 people voting against it and 683 in favor, according to unofficial results. Voter turnout was 15.8 percent.

This fiscal year, the village's required contribution to the police pension fund is estimated to be a little more than $151,000, or about 10 percent of the police department's budget. It is expected to be set around $129,000 in the new fiscal year. The contribution is determined by the Illinois Department of Insurance, based on the age and experience of the employees participating.

Until 2011, the village's police officers participated in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, like other village workers. The village levies a separate property tax each year to cover its contribution to that fund.

But when the town grew past a population of 5,000 people, it was required by state law to establish its own police pension fund. And the village contribution is paid out of the general fund, because voters in 2012 refused to let the village levy a separate property tax for police pensions.

The pension fund is for sworn officers. Civilian employees participate in the IMRF.

The new fiscal year starts May 1.

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