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Westmont eyes restaurant tax as latest revenue boost, response to repeal of home rule

Proposed 1.5 percent tax is latest response to repeal of home rule

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:37 p.m. CDT
(File photo)
Breakfast from the Golden Basket in Westmont may soon cost a bit more for patrons.

WESTMONT – The village of Westmont is considering a restaurant tax officials say would put the burden of a budget crunch on nonresidents.

Local restaurant owners are concerned the proposed 1.5 percent tax would put them at a disadvantage to surrounding communities that do not impose an eating tax. It also could stunt growth they’ve had since the downturn in the economy, they say.

On Thursday, the Westmont Village Board will discuss the proposed tax during a committee of the whole meeting. Westmont restaurant owners are expected to speak out on the proposed tax, which is expected to come to a formal vote during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Village officials say the 1.5 percent tax would bring in $760,000 annually to the village and alleviate an estimated $3 million loss in revenues after residents repealed home rule status in November.

Repealing home rule forced the village to repeal a 2.5 cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and a one-half percent sales tax hike. Both tax hikes were enacted under home rule authority.

Westmont’s administration is recommending a 1.5 percent eating tax, but at least a 1 percent tax.

Adopting the higher of the two also would allow the village to issue $10 million in resurfacing bonds for road improvements across Westmont, according to a meeting agenda.

Westmont Mayor Ron Gunter, Village Manager Ron Searl and Finance Director Spencer Parker met with members of the Westmont Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday to inform restaurant owners and field questions.

Chamber Director Larry Forssberg said while the business owners are concerned, the Chamber has had “great dialogue” with village officials, and Monday’s hour-long meeting was a testament to that.

“The overall sense is (the business owners) are concerned because the last handful of years have been challenging to restaurants due to the downturn in the economy,” Forssberg said Tuesday. “They were just starting to see that trend reverse itself the last year, year-and-a-half.”

Forssberg added that any impact of an eating tax may be lessened come July 1, when the village’s half-percent sales tax will be rescinded – moving the sales tax in Westmont from 7.75 percent to 7.25 percent.

If you go Committee of the whole meetingWHAT: Discussion, but not a vote, on the proposed 1.5 percent restaurant taxWHEN: 7 p.m. ThursdayWHERE: Westmont Village Hall, 31 W. Quincy St.

Regular meetingWHAT: Village board is expected to vote on the proposed taxWHEN: 7 p.m. MondayWHERE: Westmont Village Hall, 31 W. Quincy St.

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