A decision by the Riverside Village Board of Trustees earlier in October to hold the line on electric utility taxes may force Village Manager Peter Scalera to present a deficit budget for approval next month.
The board deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to raise the electric utility tax rate by about 5.4 percent. Village President Michael Gorman joined trustees Ben Sells and Joseph Ballerine in opposing the tax-rate hike, while trustees Mark Shevitz, James Reynolds and Lonnie Sacchi supported the increase. Trustee Jean Sussman was absent from the Oct. 15 meeting when the vote was held.
Illinois’ Municipal Code allows local governments to impose a tax on electricity consumption. The tax is based on monthly consumption and appears on electric bills as a line item. ComEd collects the tax and remits it to Riverside on the 20th of every month.
Since the tax is based on consumption, it varies throughout the year. In the summer the proceeds are higher than in winter. Government officials expect the tax proceeds to further decline as residents move to adopt greener energy use behavior.
By raising the utility tax to the full amount allowed by Illinois law, Riverside could have gained another $13,300 in revenue. According to figures provided by the village, raising rates by about 5.4 percent would have increased homeowners’ electric bills by $3.61 per year.
But Sells argued against the tax increase, saying the village had taken pains to seek electrical aggregation to lower homeowners’ electric bills. In addition, the village declined to impose an aggregation surcharge that would have gained additional revenue for the village.
“We didn’t do that because we wanted to pass that savings along to our residents,” said Sells. “I don’t see any distinction between that and this.”
By taking a pass on the tax, the loss in revenue will fall to the bottom line of the 2013 budget.
According to Scalera, taking the utility tax decision into account, the general operating fund budget stands at a deficit of a little more than $18,000.