City of Wheaton City Council met Nov. 4.
Here is the agenda provided by the council:
I. Call to Order and Roll Call
The public hearing of the Wheaton City Council was called to order at 7:00 p.m. The public hearing was held in the Council Chambers, Wheaton City Hall, 303 W. Wesley Street, Wheaton, Illinois. Upon roll call, the following were:
Present: Mayor Suess
City Staff Present: Michael Dzugan, City Manager
John Duguay, Assistant City Manager
Robert Lehnhardt, Director of Finance
James Kozik, Director of Planning & Economic Development
Sharon Barrett-Hagen, City Clerk
II. Public Hearing – Proposed Property Tax Levy Increase for Special Service Area Number 8 for 2019
City Manager Dzugan stated the purpose of the public hearing is to consider a proposed tax increase for Special Service Number 8 since the City is considering an increase greater than 5% from the 2018 extended levy. The City noticed the public hearing and identified a 75.9% increase from the 2018 extended levy which would raise $250,000 for the DWA and $147,000 for other City services provided in the Special Service Area. He stated this process is similar to last year’s which gave the Council flexibility to determine if they wanted to levy just the amount for the DWA amount or levy for additional services. City Manager Dzugan stated no decision is needed tonight and the ordinances for the levy will be heard as a first reading on December 2, 2019 with final action at the December 16 meeting.
Finance Director Lehnhardt stated staff has presented two options for the Council to consider. A proposed levy of $257,216 with $140,390 coming from SSA #8 and $116,825.70 from TIF 2. It would produce a tax rate of $0.2910 per $100 of assessed value, an 8.7% increase from the 2018 extended levy. The second option would be a maximum tax rate of $0.4500 for a total levy of $397,750, with $250,000 to the DWA and $147,750 for City services. This levy would be a 75.9% increase from the 2018 extended levy with $217,094.71 from SSA #8 and $180,655.61 from TIF 2. Finance Director Lehnhardt reviewed City services performed in the Downtown area.
Mayor Suess stated Council’s direction last year was to collect $250,000 for the DWA. Finance Director Lehnhardt stated it is the intent to extend the levy for $250,000 but the challenge is estimating the EAV. He said last year the EAVs were a lot higher than the estimate and reduced the tax rate to about $0.26 and only brought in roughly $235,000.
In response to Council questions, Director Lehnhardt confirmed that SSA #7 tax levy was extended every year to take advantage of the maximum $0.45 tax rate.
Councilwoman Fitch advised the City to keep in mind there may be a need for more parking in the Downtown which would be an additional expense unique to the Downtown area.
b. Public Comment
Mr. Jim Mathieson, 211 S. Wheaton Avenue, feels the increase is due to the City no longer contributing $30,000 to the DWA which now has to come from the special service area and the downtown property owners. He stated property owners are still feeling serious impacts from the construction and is concerned about an additional burden being placed on downtown property owners. Mr. Mathieson asked the City to consider keeping the levy the same rather than increasing it to the maximum amount.
c. Council Comment
Councilman Rutledge stated he is sympathetic to the downtown property owners and while he would like to fund the DWA, he hopes any increase in the levy could be delayed for a year or two.
Mayor Suess reiterated that last year SSA #8 was established and represents a larger area than the previous SSA #7. Because of that, taxes were actually reduced rather significantly. He stated he is of the opinion to keep the levy as it is until construction is completed.
Councilwoman Bray-Parker feels it is essential to maintain funding for the DWA as the DWA is essential to bring events and people into the Downtown
Councilman Barbier moved and Councilwoman Bray-Parker seconded a motion to close the public hearing at 7:14 p.m.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Councilman Barbier
Motion Carried Unanimously