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Local News

Lockport looks to cut impact fees to attract housing developers

Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com
Lockport
Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com Lockport

The need to reduce fees on new housing development to keep Lockport competitive with neighboring communities dominated another city council meeting.

The city council, during the committee of the whole portion of its meeting Wednesday night, considered a proposal for a revised resolution with reductions for school facilities and municipal impact fees. The proposal was first brought up and led to a lengthy discussion at its meeting on Nov. 1.

The new resolution would reduce school impact fees by 80 percent and the city’s water and sewer tap on fees as well as general impact fees by 40 percent.

Lockport implemented school facilities impact fees in 2004 to help school districts accommodate increasing housing development. However, while housing had decreased dramatically in 2008 due to the recession, impact fees continued to increase 4 percent annually.

Mayor Steven Streit said that a reduction of impact fees by Homer Glen — with which Lockport shares Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C — was one of the reasons Lockport decided to reevaluate its own fees.

According to City Administrator Ben Benson at the Nov. 1 meeting, Lockport’s total fees were higher than not only Homer Glen’s but all its neighboring communities, such as Romeoville, Lemont and New Lenox.

Streit said that the school superintendents have agreed “that we need to stay competitive” and that an 80 percent reduction is agreeable.

The other reason Streit noted for the timing for reducing these fees is the revenue that the city has secured for the schools by bringing in more businesses to the city, such as the Heritage Crossings and Prologis business parks.

Property taxes from Heritage Crossings and Prologis will benefit District 33C and Will County School District 92, respectively, as well as Lockport Township High School District 205.

These are the districts that would be impacted the most by increased housing.

“We as a council have worked very hard to find new revenues for the schools — all the business parks, the industrial parks are things we worked hard for — and we know that every time one of those buildings goes up the number one people that benefit are our children,” Streit said.

With assessed property values for each of these business parks [once they are built out] estimated at about $100 million, the revenues coming to the schools would be “far greater” than what they would receive from impact fees, Benson said after the meeting.

Council members, who were all present, were in general agreement with the provisions of the proposed resolution.

With the proposed reductions in fees, developers interested in building in Lockport will see a reduction of total fees from $24,773 to $15,530 for a four-bedroom house.

The total fees collected by New Lenox and Homer Glen are $16,635 and $11,527, respectively, according to a study presented by Benson at the Nov. 1 meeting.

New budget approved

The city council unanimously approved the city’s 2018 budget Wednesday night.

With revenues and expenditures projected at $38.34 million and $49.35 million, respectively, the city expects to use up about $10 million in reserved funds to pay for many infrastructure projects throughout the city next year.

Finance Director Lisa Heglund said that it is important to note that this is still a balanced budget because the city is using reserved funds to pay for projects.

Included in the budget is $1.9 million for replacing water mains on State Street from 8th to 10th streets and $1.6 million for a streetscape project to beautify that part of downtown. Both projects will work in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s widening of State Street.

The city will also continue to maintain its goal of reserving four-months of operating expenses, Heglund had noted during her presentation of the budget at the committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 18. There was a public hearing at the council’s Nov. 1 meeting.

Heglund’s presentation and the budget are available for review on the city’s website: www.cityoflockport.net.

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