Bartlett considering local sales tax to fix $800,000 deficit
Bartlett officials are considering everything from severe service cuts to a quarter-of-a-cent local sales tax to fix a projected $800,000 deficit in their 2018-19 annual budget.
Though half the deficit stems from an announced reduction in Bartlett's share of the state income tax, neither the village board nor staff are depending on a change of heart by state officials in their financial planning.
A 0.25 percent home rule sales tax was one of the first options the village looked at. This smallest possible increment of local sales tax is projected to generate $400,000 per year and get the village halfway to its goal.
While Bartlett has no local sales tax currently, several nearby communities have higher rates such as 0.75 percent in Hanover Park, 1 percent in Streamwood and 1.25 percent in Elgin.
Other revenue ideas were brought up at Tuesday's village board meeting - including the first increase in the village's property tax levy in nine years - but none that resonated as much as a small sales tax.
"A sales tax is a choice as opposed to everyone paying it no matter what," Village President Kevin Wallace said.
Trustee Adam Hopkins had previously asked staff to show how $800,000 could be cut from the budget and those results were looked at - largely with disfavor - this week.
They included a reduction of more than $232,000 from the police department, entailing the elimination of an officer and records clerk by attrition as well as National Night Out activities. Other possible cuts were $20,000 in holiday lights and $10,000 for the maintenance of flower baskets in the business district.
Wallace said none of the ideas, big or small, appealed to him.
"I'd prefer to shore up the $800,000 in some other way," he said. "We can be efficient without being cheap."
Wallace cautioned his fellow board members not to force cuts reducing services. The board's relationship with staff is such that employees would not complain about anything asked of them, even if the impacts may later be regretted by the board, Wallace said.
Though the current construction of a new police station is a major capital improvement for the village, it's being funded by bonds and isn't causing the deficit in the operating budget, Village Administrator Paula Schumacher said.
The village has been very efficient in reducing staff by 5 percent over the past decade, she said. The property tax levy has remained steady or even decreased in the last nine years and makes up only 9 percent of residents' tax bill, she added.
Wallace said the village's frugality is blurred by the ongoing issues of school funding, adding that no one stood up and cheered when Bartlett's utility tax was nearly eliminated.
Village staff is still exploring possible reductions in insurance costs but will hope to get some direction from the village board on how to plan the next budget in the late autumn, Schumacher said.