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Local News

Joliet sets schedule for proposed expansion of downtown business tax

JOLIET – A public hearing for the proposed expansion of a business property tax beyond downtown Joliet has been set for Oct. 18.

The Joliet City Council gave a preliminary nod to the to expansion of the tax last week when it approved a schedule that also set a final vote on the tax on Dec. 20.

The city proposes expanding a business property tax that is now placed on downtown businesses to the commercial districts on Cass, Collins and South Chicago streets.

Officials said money generated by the tax expansion can be used for economic development beyond downtown, which is where the Special Service Area tax is spent now.

“This is fitting with our strategic plan goal of bringing further development to our East Side commercial corridors,” City Manager Jim Hock said at the Tuesday meeting where council members approved the schedule.

If approved, the tax would go on property tax bills next year for businesses in the designated areas.

The tax amounts to 95 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, which city officials said would result in an 8.6 percent increase. The tax now generates $400,000 a year. It is expected to produce $630,000 if the expansion is approved.

There has not been an apparent strong reaction to the proposal so far.

The city held an open house on Aug. 24 for anyone interested in information about the expansion of the Special Service Area, and about 15 people attended.

Half of those were elected officials and organization leaders already familiar with the proposal, said Steve Jones, economic development director for the city.

One concern that was voiced, Jones said, is that money generated in the new areas would be used downtown.

Jones said the city wants to expand the City Center Partnership, which oversees spending of the money now, so that it will include representatives from the new areas.

He said that bylaws for the organization will be rewritten to assure that money is spread throughout the new Special Service Area.

“These are areas that feed into our downtown,” Jones said. “If they’re healthy and strong, it will help downtown be healthy and strong. If downtown is healthy and strong, it will help these areas be healthy and strong.”

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