Sales Tax Review

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey unveiled plans to widen Kishwaukee Street and completely rebuild a bridge over Keith creek. The project would cost $8 to $9 million.

"We want to have a strong industrial corridor. Part of that is improving the roads," says Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.

Some of the sales tax revenue would be used to fix streets and bridges that can't be used by trucks. But if the referendum fails, many repairs won't be made.

The president of Behr Steel Corporation on Seminary Street says his business could profit from a one percent sales tax hike.

"The infrastructure in this area has become so deteriorated on the roads and bridges that access to this facility has become difficult," says Bill Bremner.

City council will use the extra sales tax to pay off debts on bonds used for roads projects. They also promise to lower the property tax rate by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

"I don't think there's been a more important economic opportunity for the city of Rockford, maybe ever, to change the way we pay our bills shifting away from property tax and shifting to a sales tax," says Mayor Morrissey.

But many business owners would rather pay the higher property taxes than lose customers to competition outside city limits.

"People will definitely drive for that difference. Our equipment is not titles like cars and other stuff that's exempt. So it's going to hurt our sales," says Bob Gray, owner of Gray's Lawn and Garden center.

Mayor Morrissey says Rockford taxpayers will save $1 million a year if the referendum is approved. But some business owners say we'll lose a lot more if there's a sales tax hike.

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