Sales Tax Referendum a Go

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Come April, we'll be voting on a sales tax hike in Rockford. That's the decision city leaders came to during their meeting Monday night.
Monday night, 13 of 14 members of the the city council agreed from the get-go our roads need to be fixed. They agreed a sales tax is the best way to do that. The conflict came when deciding what size sales tax increase to ask for on an April referendum.
Alderman Sonowski proposed an amendment to drop the tax hike from one percent to three quarters of a percent. Five other members of the council agreed, they're concerned a one percent increase will fail as it did last year. They said we can not afford to go on another year without funding to fix our roads, bridges, flood water management and beautification like the RiverWalk project.
But eight members of the council won out saying we need to sell the best plan to the voters. They fear three quarters of a percent would not be enough to accomplish the city's needs. It would have brought in 4 million dollars less per year.
The council eventually voted 13-1 to put a referendum for a 1% increase on the April ballot.
Some business owners fear a tax increase would send customers to neighboring communities with lower taxes, but others have a more positive view.
Luan Dean, owner of Lulu's Boutique in Rockford says, "Improving our infrastructure and finding ways to enhance our cities image can only help us attract new business, improve tourism in our region and ultimately bring more jobs."
The city council also voted 12 to 2 to give final approval to an intergovernmental agreement on the MetroCentre. That means that they'll contribute to the $20 million needed to renovate the MetroCentre, including a clause to buy out the IceHogs and bring in an AHL Blackhawks franchise next season. The county board signed on to that plan on Thursday.
The council also decided not to take action tonight regarding approval of the ethanol plant on Meridian Road. Alderman Bell asked for more research to be done so they could consider blocking the Winnebago County's approval of the ethanol plant in the future.


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