Local businesses in Riverside’s downtown business district will not see an additional business sales tax in the near future after the village board agreed it is not an adequate time for the village to explore the possibility.
The idea of creating an additional business district – imposing a 1% sales tax for businesses within its perimeters – was first proposed in May 2022 to fund improvements, business incentives, support and other capital projects in the downtown business district. In 2020, the village created business districts on Harlem Avenue and the Ogden-Harlem corridor.
Back in 2022, the village board assigned the analysis of an additional business district in the downtown area to the Economic Development Commission. In July of that year, the commission determined to postpone it because businesses still grappled with the economic impacts of the pandemic. An additional sales tax would not be beneficial, the commission believed.
Last month, the commission revisited the proposal and found it is still not the right time to impose an additional 1% sales tax on downtown businesses, Finance Director Karin Johns told the village board.
Most village trustees at the meeting agreed.
Trustee Cristin Evans said the village board needed to hear from business owners who would be impacted by this additional tax before deciding.
Trustee Megan Claucherty said it is not the right time to impose an additional 1% tax. Though more businesses have opened, others have closed, she said.
“I’m hesitant to put a new tax on our business district and our residents,” Claucherty said.
Trustee Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga agreed with Claucherty, adding the village should respect the feedback business owners and residents provided to the Economic Development Commission. While higher density plans for the downtown area may change conditions for an additional downtown business district in the future, for now, it is inadequate, she said.
“At this time, I think the imposition of an extra tax is not what the businesses in the central area need,” she said.
While the proposal is tabled for now, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce supports the idea of finding other funding sources for economic development and business support, Johns said.
If there is a need for it, an additional downtown business district may still be considered by the village board in the future, Village President Douglas Pollock said. Before a business district can be created, the village needs to show the proposed area is contiguous and blighted, as defined in the Illinois Municipal Code.