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Elmhurst City Council votes against residential tax in downtown

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council unanimously decided not to create a new special service area (SSA) for residents living in the central business district.

With Mayor Steve Morley absent and Alderman mark Mulliner serving as mayor pro tem during the July 5 meeting, the council voted 13-0 to approve a recommendation from the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee not to create a residential SSA in downtown Elmhurst. Alderman Noel Talluto was also absent.

"At the end of the day… the committee fully agreed that establishment of a new SSA at this time… definitely was not in the plans," Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee Chairman Kevin York said.

York explained that the committee reached that decision because recent redevelopments in downtown Elmhurst have increased the equalized assessed values (EAV) of residential properties.

"If a new SSA were created, the residential properties would pay a majority of the SSA tax for those increased services and enhanced increased services," York said. "From that perspective it did not make a lot of sense."

An special service area is a taxing district created to fund services different from those provided to other properties in the municipality.

Elmhurst City Centre currently operates with SSA6 funds, which only includes commercial properties in the central business district. Since 2014, City Centre has been operating with $225,000 to $250,000 less than it did when a now defunct residential SSA7 was still active.

Without the residential contribution to its budget, Elmhurst City Centre has struggled to maintain the same level of maintenance and beautification services it has traditionally provided.

Alderman Bob Dunn said that the committee thoroughly considered the proposed SSA as a solution to City Centre's decreased budget.

"The establishment of a new SSA definitely had merit because we ended up discussing it at length for three or four meetings," Dunn said. "The SSA6... is more for the marketing and promotion of the downtown and its a much larger portion of the City Centre budget, but in the last few years, with the expiration of the SSA7, which was targeted at the beautification and maintenance, the fund balance for City Centre went from being reasonably healthy to basically down to close to zero."

Dunn concluded that the city should work with City Centre to find another solution to its financial hardships. Alderman York agreed and highlighted the importance of area to the entire city.

"Everybody knows that City Centre and the central business district is so important to the economics of Elmhurst, so we need to support it," York said. "We have invested millions of dollars in the past almost 30 years now... [so] we need to maintain this investment and take a look at every detail and make sure that we work collaboratively and come up with an equitable situation to make sure the downtown continues to look good."

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