With four precincts still pending, Brookfield Village President Michael Garvey said he was “cautiously optimistic” that a referendum question on yesterday’s primary ballot asking voters to approve a 1-percent local sales tax had prevailed.
With 18 of 22 precincts reporting at 10 p.m. last night, “yes” votes were running ahead of “no” votes by a count of 2,116 to 1,680.
However, Garvey wasn’t prepared to declare victory until seeing results of three precincts in Lyons Township, where the question fared poorly. While Proviso and Riverside township precincts gave the question wide support, “no” votes in the six reporting Lyons Township precincts outpaced “yes” votes by 427-408.
But unless the three remaining Lyons Township precincts deviate significantly from others, it appears that the sales tax referendum in Brookfield is a winner.
The tax is expected to bring in some $450,000 annually, which will be used to help fund ongoing street improvement work in the village. The village is expected to issue bonds this spring and use sales tax revenue to pay the debt service on those bonds.
“We spent a lot of time walking door-to-door, and the overall reply was that this made sense,” Garvey said.
There was some organized opposition to the referendum, spurred principally by commercial and residential property owner Steven Campbell, who posted anti-sales tax signs at various locations in the village.
“The community has spoken,” Campbell said. “I just wanted there to be open debate; therefore, I go along with the program.”
In the end, it wasn’t enough to defeat the referendum push on the part of village officials.
“I would have been disappointed [if this were defeated],” Garvey said. “I don’t think this referendum is about the two political parties. Residents want long-term solutions and think this is a reasonable way to start a long-term street plan. I think the voters get the credit.”
Easy win in North Riverside
In North Riverside, a referendum question asking voters to increase the village’s local sales tax to 1 percent passed easily. With 6 of 8 precincts reporting, voters unofficially approved the sales tax hike by a count of 809 to 320.
This marks the second time, North Riverside voters approved imposing a local sales tax on retail sales in the village. Several years ago, voters approved a half-percent sales tax by a margin of 3-to-1.
The village did little campaigning in support of the referendum, other than Mayor Richard Scheck writing to a handful of local organizations asking for support.
For at least this community, which depends largely on sales taxes to fund village operations, the referendum was an easy sell.
“The residents realize that the bulk of the dollars are coming from non-residents at our mall and strip malls,” said Village Administrator Guy Belmonte. “If you look at the number of dollars they spend in North Riverside compared to the 12 million people that go through the village, there’s very little impact on them compared to what those people put into it.”
The village expects to realize some $1.8 million from the new tax, which will be used to fund the village’s pension funds.
Sales tax a winner in Riverside
Just a few years after getting a local sales tax turned down at the polls by voters, Riverside looks as if it will now be able to impose a 1 percent tax on retail sales in the village.
With seven of 11 precincts reporting, yes votes were ahead of no votes by a 2-to-1 margin at 1,100 to 538. The $170,000 expected to be received from the tax will be used to help pay for infrastructure projects in the village.
“We got a good, clear message out there, and the fact that we are using the money for road projects was positively received,” said Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. “It also didn’t hurt that this was being pushed in a number of other communities.”