Fox Lake spikes road repairs, hiring police after sales tax defeat

 
 
Updated 3/19/2016 5:43 AM

Fox Lake officials said this week's rejection of a 1 percentage point sales tax increase means the village will pull the plug on plans for street repairs and new police officers this year.

Mayor Donny Schmit said street repairs will not be budgeted and the police department will not receive its request for three police officers and two part-time office workers.

 

Instead, Schmit said, the village will push to help increase sales at businesses to try and draw in more money. Village officials also will seek grant money and make cuts where possible to try and fund road improvements and additional police officers in coming years.

"It's not all gloom and doom," he said. "Bottom line, the residents told us the direction they want us to take, so we will take the direction they requested. We will have to make development and sales our top priorities, then acquire any grants we can to make ends meet."

Had the referendum request been approved, it would have generated about $1 million in additional revenue, officials had said. The money would have been used to repair 66 miles of roads, add police personnel and help fund the village's facade improvement program.

While there was no organized opposition to the initiative, some residents said the village needed to learn to live within its means.

According to the Lake County clerk's office, unofficial totals show voters rejected the sales tax proposal by a final total of 1,719 "no" votes to 787 "yes" votes. All votes are considered unofficial until after they are canvassed later.

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Fox Lake voters approved a second ballot question to allow the village to join the Fox Lake Fire Protection District. Unofficial totals show 1,466 "yes" votes to 1,004 "no" votes.

Schmit said the outcome allows the village to get out of "the fire protection business." The village owns two fire stations but contracts personnel from the fire district to the village fire department.

Residents will pay property taxes to the village's ambulance and corporate fire tax in 2016, then that money will be collected by the fire protection district starting in 2017.

The owners of a $200,000 house in the village will see their taxes increase by $138 annually when the switch is made in 2017.

"We will extend the fire district contract long enough to get through this tax year," Schmit said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There will be a few other items that need to be discussed, he said, including a lease or sale of village-owned fire stations and equipment.

"We'll have an amicable negotiation with the fire protection district regarding the stations and equipment," Schmit said.

"I'm sure it won't be a big issue."

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