Sales Tax Goes Up

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

From now on, Rockford shoppers will be getting back a little less change every time we make a purchase. The one percent sales tax increase is in effect. On Thursday and Friday, both houses of the state legislature overrode the governor's veto that prevented collecting the money now, instead of January 1st. Businesses received notification of the increase in the mail Saturday and had to be ready to collect the new tax by the next day.
"I just submitted that letter that we got. They took care of it on the corporate end. It seemed to be no hassles. It didn't seem like it was that big of a change," says Office Depot Manager Jim Heilman.
Despite the fact customers now have to pay one percent more in sales tax for every item on the shelves, Office Depot employees say they didn't hear a single person complain about the increase.
The extra change didn't stop Fellisha Alleyne from buying a new computer Sunday. She says, "It's just the one cent so I don't think it's a big difference if we bought it yesterday versus today."
The transition was not quite as easy at a small clothing store across town. Culture Shock's two busy employees didn't get around to opening the notice until Sunday, leaving them just that morning to reprogram the cash register themselves to apply the new tax.
"It was very sudden and unexpected and inconvenient," says employee Lauren Vanags.
She wishes Rockford leaders had kept business owners up to date on the legislative process, giving them a better idea if the increase was likely to happen right away.
"I know it only happened you know in one day and we had to change it right away but if we had had more notices leading up to it, it might have made the preparation easier for us," says Vanags.
Now she hopes the higher rates won't make business harder too.
As the money from the kicked-up tax starts coming in, work can begin on the many cracked and cratered roads across Rockford that need construction help. City leaders hope to get started on road projects in mid-August. Alderman will likely start discussing what to work on first at their city council meeting Monday night.

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