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Local News

Proposed Joliet budget includes higher gas, hotel taxes

City expects to end 2019 with $11 million deficit

Gax taxes in Joliet would increase next year under a proposed city budget.
Gax taxes in Joliet would increase next year under a proposed city budget.

The proposed Joliet city budget for 2020 includes $8.5 million in higher taxes, new fees and other revenue enhancements.

The budget met immediate resistance from Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who said proposals for higher taxes and fees should have been vetted through the City Council before going into a proposed budget.

The mayor accused interim City Manager Steve Jones of “throwing the City Council under the bus” by putting the proposed tax increases in the budget without getting approval from the council.

“I think this was incorrectly handled,” O’Dekirk told Jones at a meeting Monday when the council got its first look at the budget. “Neither myself nor anyone on the council has proposed any of this.”

The proposed budget includes higher building permit fees that would generate $722,000, a 3-cent a gallon increase in the city gas tax and bumping the hotel tax from 7% to 10%.

The proposals come as the city expects to end this year with an $11 million deficit.

“It’s becoming a little more of a challenge to balance the budget,” Jones said.

Jones also said he considered the budget meeting an appropriate venue for staff to present higher taxes and fees.

“If the council has some questions, some suggestions, some alternatives, that’s what these meetings are for,” he said when responding to the mayor.

Many of the proposed revenue measures are not news to the City Council.

They include $250,000 from a tax on recreational marijuana that the council approved in October, although the revenue estimated from the tax at the time was $1 million.

They also include nearly $1.9 million in new property tax revenue, which, as in past years, will come from new growth and higher property values while the city maintains the same tax rate.

The proposed increase in the city portion of the gasoline tax had been the topic of City Council debates, although the mayor had made clear that he was against it.

The gas tax would go from the current rate of 1 cent a gallon to 4 cents.

Other increases include a new contractor registration fee of $200 and unspecified “over-the-counter fees” in the Community Development Department.

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