City Council Unanimously Agrees to Put Sales Tax Hike on Referendum

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

For a penny more a purchase, Rockford city council sees almost unlimited opportunity. That's why aldermen agree to put a one-cent sales tax increase on the spring primary ballot, a move they believe will better tackle lingering city problems.

"We no longer have to see a budget where it says absolutely no capital expenditures. In other words, no ambulances, no fire trucks, no personnel. That is going to be a thing of the past," Nancy Johnson said.

If approved, the sales tax hike would apply to every item except food, medicine and state titled objects. With millions of new dollars created, city officials also estimate property taxes would drop down 20 percent across ten years, pleasing both homeowners and store-owners.

"If you're a business owner, you have to pay property tax on your business, and I think a business owner is looking for that break. Also, if we can reduce that property tax by 20 percent over a given period of time, if I'm a business owner I'm saying, yes, I want that break," Lenny Jacobsen said.
And with two months before citizens cast their vote, aldermen say they now must hit the streets, and lay out the positives.

"We must market this and must sell it to the public. Road referendums were always well received because we told the public exactly what was going to happen, and we did it," Bill Timm said.

A small price to pay, which city leaders believe will bring in big rewards in the coming years.

The sales tax referendum replaces Rockford's annual road improvements referendum. If voters approve the one-cent sales tax hike this march, the increase would take effect June first.

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