Geneva Chamber of Commerce supporting sales-tax increase

Updated 2/20/2018 12:00 PM

The Geneva Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to convince voters to increase the city portion of sales tax from .5 percent to 1 percent.

It will send a mailer the first week of March, outlining why it thinks it is a good idea. The mailer will invite people to attend three forums to ask questions. The forums are 7 p.m. March 6 at the American Legion Hall, 22 S. Second St. hosted by Stockholm's Pub; March 13 at Wildwood Restaurant, 477 S. Third St.; and March 15 at Country House, 2095 S. Kirk Road.


It is also posting a video about the referendum, made by the city, on its website and Facebook page.

"We understand new income is necessary to maintain the services we expect, and it seems this .5 percent (point) increase is the most fair way to raise the money," chamber President Jean Gaines said.

Several years ago the council considered raising the sales tax just for businesses in the downtown. The chamber opposed that idea, saying it was unfair to downtown merchants who compete with stores elsewhere in town, primarily those on Randall Road.

Wildwood owner Patrick Neary had promised to work for the sales tax increase so the city doesn't implement a 2 percent places-for-eating tax. The chamber and a group of restaurant owners oppose the places-for-eating tax.

Geneva officials estimate the increase would put an additional $2 million a year in the city's hands.

It would not apply to most groceries, medicines, medical equipment and titled items such as vehicles. If approved it would start July 1.

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The ballot question references two taxes that are colloquially called "sales tax," a local retailers occupation tax and a service occupation tax. They are essentially the same thing; the retailers occupation tax is the sales tax you pay for items bought directly, and the service occupation tax is paid when you have services done, such as tires installed at a repair shop.

State law says the sales tax at first could be used to provide property tax relief, pay for city operations, or on infrastructure. After Dec. 31, 2020, it could be spent on infrastructure.

If the sales tax increase is rejected, the places-for-eating tax starts May 1.

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