Bartlett approves sales tax, plans to drop utility tax
Bartlett trustees approved a 1 percent home-rule sales tax by a 4-1 vote this week and plan to follow through with a promised elimination April 3 of the village's utility taxes.
The tax swap is expected to bring a net increase of $1 million to the 2018-19 budget, preventing a deficit without dipping into reserves.
Both halves of the swap would take effect on May 1, but the sales tax needed to be approved by April 1 for required notification purposes.
The new tax would raise the overall sales tax in Bartlett to 10 percent from 9 percent in Cook County and to 8 percent from 7 percent in DuPage County, village Finance Director Todd Dowden said.
The state already has a 6.25 percent sales tax while Cook County adds 1.75 percent. The Regional Transportation Authority collects a 1 percent sales tax in Cook County and a 0.75 percent sales tax in DuPage County.
Though Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nanette Gudenkauf said the organization was unlikely to oppose the sales tax, Village President Kevin Wallace confirmed with the village staff Tuesday that no businesses have criticized the proposal.
"That's good to hear," he said.
Wallace has said exchanging the utility taxes for a sales tax allows greater choice to consumers and means nonresidents will contribute more to village revenues.
Trustee Aaron Reinke cast the sole vote against the village sales tax while Trustee Kristina Gabrenya was absent. Reinke said he preferred a 0.75 percent sales tax -- or at least that the last 0.25 percent of what was proposed be earmarked for roads.
"My concern is that this is somehow going to be a license to spend more money," Reinke said. "I think there needs to be a constant downward pressure on the cost of government."
Village Administrator Paula Schumacher said a 0.75 percent tax with the elimination of the utility taxes would create too narrow a margin to say the deficit problem had been solved. Even the margin created by a 1 percent tax couldn't be characterized as a blank check, she said.
The 1 percent sales tax is expected to generate $1.6 million per year. The village's natural gas and electricity taxes bring in about $600,000 annually, after about $60,000 is rebated to seniors.
Because the state decided last year to make a 10 percent cut to the portion of the income tax revenue it shares with municipalities, Bartlett trustees Tuesday also approved a resolution opposing that method of balancing the state's budget. The state's action cost the village about $400,000 for the budget year.