Should Costs be Set at $451,398,341 for 2019?
There have been hours of hearings evaluating the proposed budget, and you can view all the city budget workshops on their site, here. These proposed costs will go to City Council on Dec. 4 for approval. You can view the full proposal here.
There’s too much to go through, so big picture, the budget represents an approximate 2% increase over last year. City Staff’s recommendation includes proposals to maintain the three financial principles: to pass a structurally balanced budget, to continuously improve the delivery of necessary and cost-effective services and increase cash reserves by 25% and reduce debt by 25% by the end of 2022.
The City continues to work towards efficiencies including potential staff reduction requested in the last budget process between the Settlement, the Library, and City Hall. We continue to support these efforts and hope that sharing HR and other resources will allow the City to maintain service levels while reducing the cost to the residential and corporate taxpayers.
In addition, there was significant discussion around a proposal for Ogden Sign Conversion and how many dollars should be allocated for that in the budget. The City seeks to convert existing and non-conforming pole signs along the Ogden corridor to monument signs. The NACC has had extensive feedback from our Membership on this issue. In so far as the program is voluntary, then many of our Members are interested in exploring the possibility with the City.
How Should Naperville Pay for the $451.4 Million in Proposed Spending?
If City Council votes to approve the spending figure outlined above, the question turns to exactly how to pay for it. There was extensive conversation at the budget workshop around two primary options: allowing the real estate tax levy to increase with the rise in property values or to raise the food and beverage tax. These are not official proposals, and final decision is not due on Dec. 4, but both have major policy implications so it’s worth going into depth on what they could mean for local businesses.
Real Estate Tax Levy
City Staff’s recommendation is to allow the property tax levy, or the total dollars collected, to rise while holding the property tax rate constant. The City of Naperville would then capture the rise in value of each individual property as well as the value of new construction as revenue to balance the budget.
Proponents point to the fact that the City has a historically low rate because of the current policy to drive down the total levy. For example, since 2016 the rate has dropped by 7.8% which has saved Naperville residents and commercial property owners significantly. The proposed increase from City Staff would cost the average Naperville homeowner approximately $35.
In addition, City Staff points to the need to diversify revenue streams while pointing to the fact that nearly 49% of the City’s revenue mix currently comes from market-driven sources like the food and beverage tax, sales tax, and real estate transfer tax. This makes the City of Naperville reliant on a strong economy to continue to deliver operating revenue which would be at risk come a slower economy.
Opponents point to the fact that the total property tax burden in Illinois is still among the highest in the country and is a driver for out-migration.
Food and Beverage Tax
Another option discussed at length is a potential increase to the Naperville Food and Beverage Tax. This would increase the tax rate on alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as food purchased at Naperville bars and restaurants.
Proponents argue that this is a voluntary tax paid by the consumer. If you don’t want to pay the tax you can buy less expensive items or less in total. In addition, food and beverage taxes affect consumers at the location, many of whom may not be Naperville residents.
Opponents argue that unlike the City’s portion of the Real Estate Tax, the Food and Beverage Tax rate in Naperville is less competitive. There have been no recent efforts to drive down the rate and further increases will have a distortionary effect on demand. Moreover, Naperville is already heavily reliant on discretionary, market-driven tax dollars and this proposal could increase that exposure.
What Are Your Thoughts?
I want to reiterate that these are not final proposals, vetted and ready to be voted on before City Council on Tuesday. Nevertheless, each potential has significant implications to local businesses and deserves to be poked and prodded. A decision on the Property Tax levy is due near the end of the year, while the food and beverage decision would be due in the first quarter of 2019.
But what do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback.
5th Avenue Development
The City Council is diving deep into the necessary questions raised with the potential 5th Avenue development around parking, DuPage Children’s Museum location, and more. The next action will be Dec. 4, when City Council will receive the report from S.B. Friedman, the City’s Advocate, on their recommendations to date.
Internet Commerce Fairness
In a big win for fairness, Naperville leveled the playing field for local hotel/motel and internet sharing sites. In addition, the City is exploring legal options to demand Amazon and other online retailers collect and remit the home rule sales tax to place them on a level playing field with local retailers.
The Illinois General Assembly is finalizing the 2018 veto session. Spring Session Adjourned on May 31, 2018.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The House voted to override the Governor’s Veto on SB904, a workers’ compensation reform bill. The bill proposes significant changes especially to electronic billing of claims.
Tobacco Purchase Age
The House failed on an attempted override of the Governor’s veto on SB2332. This bill would have raised the minimum purchase age for tobacco products to 21 statewide.