Brookfield’s village board is poised to hike vehicle sticker fees, institute a 1 percent restaurant tax and start charging church and other nonprofit groups for temporary liquor licenses as officials continue to search for ways to increase operating revenues.
According to Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral, who laid out the options to trustees at their committee of the whole meeting Monday night, the village could raise an additional $250,000 annually by instituting those measures.
The majority of that amount would come from increasing the cost of a village vehicle sticker 60 percent from $25 to $40. That alone would result in $150,000 of additional revenue, Sbiral said. The fee increase would be limited to passenger cars housed in Brookfield.
The last time trustees increased vehicle sticker fees was in June 2004.
While trustees have not yet voted to approve such an increase, it is included as an assumption in the 2010 budget, which trustees passed in January. Unless trustees wish to find that $150,000 elsewhere in the budget, a vehicle sticker increase appears certain and will likely come up for a vote on March 8.
The board did not discuss raising fees for truck stickers, which are set at $50 for pickup trucks and $90 for heavy trucks. Finance Director Doug Cooper said in a separate interview that fees those may also go up for a corresponding amount, but no decision has been reached on that matter.
Senior citizens will continue to receive a discount for one vehicle per household.
While not exactly a new concept, the idea of imposing a 1 percent restaurant tax has not been figured into the 2010 budget and could provide about $100,000 in new revenue for the general operating fund.
State law allows nonhome rule communities, like Brookfield, to impose such a tax without going to referendum. The ceiling for such a tax is 1 percent and can be implemented in 0.25 percent increments. The $100,000 figure presented to trustees on Monday was predicated on the full 1 percent being levied.
If the village board votes to do so, all food and beverages prepared at establishments where there is seating will be assessed the 1 percent tax.
In addition to local restaurants, coffee shops and bars, the tax would affect food service operations at Brookfield Zoo, which accounts for a sizeable percentage of such business in the village. Cooper estimates the zoo would account for 25 to 30 percent of those new revenues.
The village would be responsible for administering and collecting the tax from local establishments, Cooper said.
Riverside imposed a similar 1 percent restaurant tax back in 2008. According to that village’s finance director, Kevin Wachtel, Riverside collected about $48,000 in 2008 and $55,000 in 2009. While the two villages share Brookfield Zoo within their boundaries, more of the zoo’s food and catering operations are on the Brookfield side of the park. Brookfield also has many more restaurants within its municipal boundaries.
Brookfield Village President Michael Garvey said that while “no one wants to talk about tax increases” during a recession, he feels the restaurant tax would be driven by out-of-towners visiting the zoo and other businesses.
“Obviously a large percentage is the zoo as well as people coming in from outside of Brookfield,” Garvey said.
“From a policy perspective, this is typically the kind of tax increase that has a pretty high ‘pull factor.’ There are a lot of people from out of town coming in,” he said.
Sbiral also suggested that trustees consider instituting a fee for Class 8 liquor licenses – ones approved frequently by the board for nonprofit and church groups who seek to sell liquor at special, short-term events. St. Barbara Church, for example, is granted up to a dozen such licenses a year.
Implementing a fee of $200 for such licenses might only net the village $3,000 a year, Sbiral said, but it would go toward helping recoup the village for staff and legal costs incurred in creating and administering the licenses.
“While the dollar amount is insignificant in itself, it does cover the cost of the process,” Sbiral said.
Sbiral said that he was not recommending an across-the-board increase for liquor licenses in Brookfield.
“In light of the difficulties businesses have had paying for them now, we didn’t think of increasing anything except for Class 8 was realistic at this point,” Sbiral said.