Channahon OKs new tax on telecommunications
By Jeanne Millsap For The Herald-News September 20, 2011 8:10AM
Updated: November 10, 2011 2:18PM
CHANNAHON — It took the mayor to cast the deciding vote, but a village board decision Monday paves the way to increase taxes on personal and business telecommunications services by 5 percent come Jan. 1.
The new telecommunications tax applies cell phone and land line phone services and on Internet and e-mail services. The goal is to help replenish declining revenue. For the past two years, Channahon has had to dip into reserves to cover operating expenses.
The vote to establish the new telecommunications tax was split, with Trustees Debbie Militello, Judie Nash, and Scott Slocum voting against it, and Sam Greco, Scott McMillin and Jerry Papesh voting for the tax. The tie was broken by Village President Joe Cook, who voted in favor.
The vote was needed this week, according to acting Village Administrator and Police Chief Joe Pena. The village has till Oct. 1 to notify the Illinois Department of Revenue to have the tax take effect in January.
The village board might even decide not to go through with the tax, Pena said, if other income or cuts are found before the end of the year.
“Come January, we may only do it at 1 percent or 2 percent or no percent at all,” Papesh said.
“We will continue to take a look at our operational numbers,” Pena added. “If at the end of the calendar year, if it’s not necessary, we will not implement it.”
The board is also considering beginning a local utility tax.
Last month, mention was made that additional staff reductions were being considered, something a resident brought up at the Monday meeting.
Karen Smith challenged the board on the tax decision, citing the recent poor economy and job market and the hardship it has already placed on residents.
“I don’t believe it’s justifiable,” she said of a new tax.
Smith gave several examples of neighbors who were facing foreclosure, had been laid off, or were elderly and would have difficulty paying the new tax.
When Smith asked why the village has not considered reducing the hours of current village staff members, she was told that the village has to deal with union rules.
There were some layoffs last year, Pena said, and department heads are taking unpaid furloughs this year.
Pena did not take a pay raise when accepting the additional responsibility of acting village administrator while still being police chief. And to cut expenses, the village is not searching for an administrator at this time, Pena said last month.
Pena said the telecommunications tax would average about $34 per year per person, depending on the number of services used.