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Downers Grove

Five things we learned at Tuesday's Downers Grove Council meeting

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council discussed a slew of items on Tuesday, including mobile food trucks, a Lamborghini dealership and the property tax levy.

Here's a rundown of the top five items discussed:

1. Mayor sees benefits of mobile food trucks

Mayor Martin Tully summarized his trip to the National League of Cities conference Nov. 13-14 in Seattle. The expo provided guidance and workshops covering economic development programs, sustainability and community development, among other topics.

Tully said a presentation on the emergence of mobile food trucks in cities like Portland, Oreg., opened his eyes to several benefits of the business type.

"One of the things the presenters pointed out was it really supports entrepreneurship
because it's an opportunity for someone to get involved in a business venture with much lower lending risk, much less capital risk," he said. "And if [it's] successful, could lead to a brick and mortar type business in a community. And it attracts culinary talent."

Food trucks became a topic this fall when Westmont resident and food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti expressed frustration that Downers Grove currently does not allow food trucks.

2. Lamborghini may join Bentley on Ogden Avenue

The council heard the first reading of a tax-rebate agreement with Gold Coast Exotic Imports to bring Lamborghini to the existing Bentley dealership at 310-330 Ogden

The agreement would extend to Lamborghini the current, 10-year, 50 percent sales tax rebate currently offered to Bentley. The Italian luxury carmaker's name would also be added to the business's signage, and the interior and exterior of the showroom building would also be modified, according to village documents. The dealership could also apply for TIF funds to subsidize some of the remodeling costs.

The new, combined dealership would hope to open by March.

Commissioner Sean Durkin said the tax rebate is similar to incentives the village has offered to most, if not all, car dealerships on Ogden Avenue.

"If we don't do it, then another community is going to do it," Durkin said at the meeting.

The council will vote whether to accept the agreement at a future meeting.

3. Village approves property tax levy

The village board approved the 2013 property tax levy, which will be paid by property owners in 2014.

The approved village property tax levy is about $11.59 million, compared to about $11 million last year, meaning the owner of a $300,000 home will pay about $27.57 more in property taxes to the village. The increase is caused by rising pension costs.

The village finances pensions through property taxes, which are slated to increase by the $583,000 needed to cover the rising pension costs. The amount of property tax levy funds going toward village operations will stay the same, according to village documents.

4. Unincorporated properties near 39th Street, Fairview Avenue to pay for fire protection

The village created a special service area encompassing certain unincorporated properties near 39th Street and Fairview Avenue. The SSA allows the village to tax the property owners to pay for fire protection services provided in the area by the village.

Some of the properties are in the Fairview Fire Protection District, some are not.

"For the last several years, the FFPD has been unable to pay the village for the full costs of providing these services, resulting in a total unpaid balanced of more than $100,000," staff documents stated. "The village and Fairview Fire Protection District, working with DuPage County, have identified the creation of a special taxing district to provide a sustainable funding source for this service."

5. More parking spots will be available on Washington Street

The village passed an ordinance allowing two-hour parking on the east side of Washington Street between Maple Avenue and Curtiss Street. The stretch did not previously allow street parking. A recent construction project reconfigured parking restrictions on Washington Street.

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