JOLIET – A few businesspeople on Tuesday voiced concerns about the plan to expand a downtown business tax, the first hint of any opposition to the proposal aimed at generating $230,000 a year for future projects.
The comments were made at a City Council meeting where an intergovernmental agreement was approved to set in motion the $190 million Houbolt Road bridge and interchange project.
The council won’t vote on the expansion of the special service area tax until December.
On Tuesday, the council held a public hearing for the plan to expand the business property tax to the commercial corridors on Cass, Collins and South Chicago streets.
Nick Polykandriotis, owner of JCM Uniforms on Cass Street, said he hoped to see a more defined plan on how the money would be spent.
“I don’t know where you’re headed with this other than we’re going to do this and improve, and that’s it,” Polykandriotis said.
There are specific infrastructure needs on Cass Street, including storm sewer improvements, he said.
Specific projects on a city list include downtown improvements and artificial turf at Silver Cross Field, which resident Robert Hernandez called “disgraceful.”
“I don’t think the people on Collins and Cass streets should be paying for any downtown improvement or improvements for the baseball stadium,” Hernandez said.
Kamlesh Patel, a business owner on South Chicago Street, said he did not believe many of the business in that area could handle the property tax increase, which would be 95 cents per every $100 in assessed valuation.
“I think inclusion of South Chicago Street is an unnecessary burden,” Patel said.
The plan did get the support of Sue Pritz Bornhofen, whose family owns the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate. Bornhofen even said she wanted some parcels of the estate, not originally included in the special service area, to be part of the plan.
“We’re excited,” Bornhofen said. “We look forward to the improvement and look forward to working with you.”
One downtown residential developer, Mike Petry, said the special service area tax makes the property taxes on condos in downtown Joliet higher than in downtown Chicago.
Noting that the city wants more residential development, Petry said, “I think that with the SSA it wasn’t contemplated what impact the SSA would have on the condos.”
Houbolt Road bridge
The intergovernmental agreement for the Houbolt Road project was approved with no opposition.
City Manager Jim Hock said approving the agreement means the state of Illinois will release $2.1 million for Joliet to hire engineers for a new interchange at Interstate 80.
The council also approved an agreement with Will County that will create an electronics recycling site at Ottawa and Marion streets near the Will County Jail.