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Local News

Joliet business tax expansion would take in 'a few' homes

JOLIET – The proposed expansion of a downtown business property tax will also take in some residential property.

City Manager Jim Hock said “a few” residential properties will be included while being questioned about the proposal by Councilwoman Brooke Hernandez Brewer.

“We did hear from people who wanted to not be included in the boundaries.” Brewer said, asking whether the boundaries for the proposed special service area could be changed.

The council voted Tuesday to add two properties that are part of the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate after the owners of the mansion had asked that the lots be added to the special service area.

But Hock said that Tuesday was the last time the council could change the boundaries of the special service area according to the law governing the process. A public hearing on the proposal was held in October.

Hock said some residential properties were added to the proposed special service area because by law it has to be contiguous.

“As much as we could, we excluded residential wherever we could,” he said.

He noted that there are residential properties downtown that are included in the special service area.

The council expects to vote Dec. 20 on whether to approve the expanded special service area, which now covers the downtown business district.

The proposal is to expand the boundaries to business corridors along Cass, Collins and South Chicago streets.

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.

The expansion has been promoted as an economic development proposal.

Brewer was the only council member to vote against including the additional lots at Jacob Henry Mansion Estate in the special service area.

She said after the meeting that she had questions about the special service area and how the tax would be applied.

“The people that live in the area need to be considered,” she said.

Brewer is the newest member on the council, having been appointed at the Oct. 4 meeting to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Jim McFarland.

ReStore relocation

The council approved a special use permit that will allow Will County Habitat for Humanity to move its ReStore retail operation into the former Century Tile store at 1395 N. Larkin Ave.

“I think this is a great use for the property, and I wish them well,” Councilman Michael Turk said as he joined other council members in a unanimous vote for the permit.

The council twice turned down special use permits sought by DriveTime to open a used-car business at the location.

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