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posted: 3/13/2018 5:30 AM

Mundelein officials weighing new fee, tax to pay for flood relief

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  • Drains at North Lincoln Avenue and West Division Street in Mundelein were unable to handle the heavy rain that fell last July, leaving much of the neighborhood flooded.

      Drains at North Lincoln Avenue and West Division Street in Mundelein were unable to handle the heavy rain that fell last July, leaving much of the neighborhood flooded.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Jorge Morales and his son, Ariel, try to clear street drains in Mundelein during the July 2017 flood.

      Jorge Morales and his son, Ariel, try to clear street drains in Mundelein during the July 2017 flood.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Mundelein officials are considering creating a new utility fee for property owners and a new tax on packaged liquor to fund flood-prevention efforts in town.

The new fee and tax could raise about $900,000 annually combined, according to a memo from Assistant Village Administrator Peter Vadopalas.

The bulk of the revenue would be used to repay an $8 million loan officials are pursuing to fund stormwater drainage improvements in the Western Slope neighborhood, which is near Route 45 and Division Street.

The neighborhood flooded after a heavy rainstorm last July, prompting residents with water-damaged homes to demand action from village hall.

Some cash also would be spent on flood-relief projects elsewhere in town.

Consulting firms discovered problems with Mundelein's sewer systems after the flood. HR Green Inc. said the village's stormwater system is not big enough to handle heavy rainstorms like the one that hit town last summer. And the RJN Group looked at Mundelein's sanitary sewers and found rainwater is getting into those lines through cracks in pipes and improper customer hookups.

The consultants suggested installing additional pipes and bigger pipes, building detention ponds and repairing sanitary sewer pipes as possible solutions.

Trustees debated options Monday night during a committee-of-the-whole meeting at village hall. No final decisions were made.

Officials have proposed a tiered stormwater utility fee, with owners of larger properties paying more. The monthly fee would range from $4 to $40 and could generate $650,000 annually, according to village documents.

A new 1 percent tax on packaged liquor would bring the total sales tax on such items to 9 percent and could raise $250,000 annually.

Trustee Bill Rekus suggested delaying implementing the utility fee because of a recent, unspecified offer to buy some village-owned land.

But Trustee Kerston Russell said the time is right now to begin the project.

"We need to send a message to the residents of this town," Russell said. "Let's get it done. Let's make it happen."

Trustee Ray Semple agreed. No one likes raising taxes, he said, "(but) we are responsible for fixing this stuff."

Additionally, officials debated asking voters to approve a real estate transfer tax to fund burying overhead utility lines and other projects.

A ballot question would be required for such a tax.

Officials have proposed implementing a $3 tax for every $1,000 of property value in a transaction. The tax on the sale of a $200,000 home would be $600, and it would be paid by the seller.

No trustees voiced support for the tax but most favored asking voters to decide the issue in November or during a future election.

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