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Elburn trustees: Special election cost too high

Village leaders might consider boosting sales tax in effort to help raise funds

ELBURN – The idea of Elburn running a special election in the fall to address the village’s police pension issue appears to be off the table. The possibility of an increased sales tax, however, appears to be alive.

Village officials recently learned the cost of a special election would be more than $64,000, and trustees at Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting indicated that was too high a price to pay.

“I don’t think it’s worth the money,” village board member Jeff Walter said.

“I don’t think so, either,” board member Dave Gualdoni added.

Village officials previously discussed the possibility as part of the ongoing discussion of how to address the cost of police pensions.

Earlier this year, Village President Dave Anderson said he had a preliminary conversation with Kane County Sheriff Donald Kramer to see whether Kramer would have interest in having the Sheriff’s Office take over police duties in Elburn. Village residents packed a meeting not long after that, with many saying they would not support such a move. Several said they instead would be behind another attempt at a referendum.

Once the village reached 5,000 residents, it no longer was able to fund its police pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. In 2012, voters in the village rejected a referendum that would have created and funded a new police pension system. Since then, the money has come out of the village’s general fund, and Dave Anderson has said Elburn has been going without needed street repairs. He said the village needed to explore ideas that could save on costs, and he has said he wanted to see whether contracting services with the Sheriff’s Office could lead to savings.

A possible solution could be the village conducting a successful referendum, but the deadline had passed to get such a question on the April ballot, and no election is scheduled in November. Without a special election, the village would have to wait until the spring of 2016 to attempt a referendum.

At a meeting earlier this month, Trustee Craig Swan brought up two other possibilities to provide a boost for the village’s funds – increasing the income tax as much as a quarter of a percent or seeking to collect a vehicle sticker fee. On Monday, Swan said he had done research and found that Elburn’s sales tax of 7 percent is significantly below that of nearby communities.

The sales tax idea was more popular among officials than the vehicle sticker. Erin Willrett, the village administrator, warned that fees collected from vehicle stickers could only be used for specific costs, such as street maintenance. Dave Anderson said there are administrative fees associated with a vehicle sticker program.

“The idea of a sales tax piques more interest than a vehicle sticker,” Dave Anderson said.

Village Trustee Ken Anderson suggested that there could be a spread sheet at a future meeting that would show Elburn’s sales tax compared to nearby municipalities, as well as how much money could be generated by raising the sales tax.

“What if we get that sort of data sheet and keep talking about it?” Ken Anderson said.

Dave Anderson indicated he would listen to any suggestions.

“I said it at the last meeting, and I’ll say it again,” Dave Anderson said, adding he was “open to ideas.”

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