Are barn, fire station upgrades worth sales tax hike? Lake Zurich voters to decide

  • Lake Zurich voters will be asked whether they would like to increase the local sales tax from 0.5% to 1%. The additional revenue would help fund the rebuilding of Paulus Park Barn, which was gutted by fire last year.

      Lake Zurich voters will be asked whether they would like to increase the local sales tax from 0.5% to 1%. The additional revenue would help fund the rebuilding of Paulus Park Barn, which was gutted by fire last year. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Posted10/8/2020 5:27 AM

A sales tax increase on the Lake Zurich ballot would pay for rebuilding the Paulus Park Barn, improving the 38-year-old Fire Station No. 1 and financing other projects.

In deciding the issue, voters will weigh the importance of the upgrades versus increasing the total amount paid in sales tax on purchases in town from 7.5% to 8%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Claire Slattery, executive director of the Lake Zurich Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has not taken a position on the referendum and she is unaware of organized opposition within the local business community. The chamber's governmental affairs committee will review the proposal and decide if there should be a survey of chamber members.

"We certainly work very closely with the village of Lake Zurich and know they put a lot of time and effort to coming to this point with the referendum," Slattery said. "They have definitely done all their due diligence."

The village has been soliciting feedback from residents for much of the year about improvements they would like to see to the barn -- which was gutted by fire last year -- and other areas of town.

As of August, 1,263 members of the community had been surveyed through virtual community engagement sessions, community committee meetings, online feedback forms, phone polls and more.

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As part of the village surveys, residents were presented with four options for the Paulus Park Barn: rebuilding it using primarily insurance money and about $500,000 in village funds; rebuilding the barn along with a one-story addition; rebuilding the barn with a two-story addition; or demolishing the barn and replacing it with a new, larger building.

The preferred option would add a large multipurpose room with partitions, as well as more restrooms and an exterior patio.

According to a village analysis of the feedback, the plan has strong support among all demographics, especially middle-aged adults, seniors, women, moderates and minorities.

The current 7.5% local sales tax rate is split among the village, which gets 0.5%, the Regional Transportation Authority, which gets 0.75%, and the state, which gets the remaining 6.25%.

Kyle Kordell, assistant to the village manager, said this summer that if village voters approve the request, the extra tax would generate about $2 million annually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The question to voters will read: "Shall the Village of Lake Zurich be authorized to increase its current one-half percent (0.5%) sales tax by another one-half percent (0.5%) to levy a 1% sales tax to be used for public infrastructure, municipal operations, or property tax relief?"

The village board voted 5-1 in August to put the question to voters. Trustee Janice Gannon cast the dissenting vote. She said she thinks the state is going to raise taxes soon because of COVID-19 and it is a bad time for a local hike as well.

In November 2010, Lake Zurich voters authorized the village to implement the initial nonhome-rule sales tax rate of 0.5%, with 3,438 voting "yes" and 2,845 voting "no."

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