The village encountered strong resistance Monday evening to its effort to impose a special tax on property owners along Industrial Drive to fund reconstruction of the street.
Representatives from several business in the area, which consists of the portion of 19th Street immediately east of Desplaines, questioned why the village had not communicated with them before coming up with the idea and insisted that it find a cheaper option.
The village council will now likely vote on whether to cancel the plans entirely at its meeting next Monday. The Special Service Area (SSA) would call for the property owners to fund a maximum of $2.4 million in bonds sold by the village, repaid over the course of no more than 20 years at an interest rate of 9 percent or less.
“We want to hear what other options you can present besides to separate us out from the rest of the city and put us in a position where we’re filing additional taxes in addition to what we’re already paying,” said Steve Yacyshyn, president of Duraco, Inc., 7400 Industrial Drive.
Yacyshyn, who objected to first learning about the SSA by reading about it in the Review, told the four commissioners present (Patrick Doolin was absent) that Industrial Drive property owners will pay over $2 million in taxes in 2005, with over $350,000 of that going to the village government.
“You’d have a lot of angry constituents if our $2 million wasn’t pumped into the community,” he said, noting in documents he distributed to the commissioners that the maximum cost of the SSA would add an increase averaging 7.2 percent to their taxes.
Village Administrator Michael Sturino, who proposed the SSA, said that “the process in which this was conducted was identical to the process by which SSAs are conducted in many municipalities throughout Illinois,” and questioned why the property owners who complained about a lack of communication had not contacted him with questions before the meeting.
“I’m taking residents’ side ” residents should not be forced to pay for a street used exclusively by these industries,” he said. “I did not hear any other ideas for an appropriate revenue source.”
Commissioner Tim Gillian took objection to the accusation that property owners had not been informed by the village. “Involve you in what?” he asked. “We haven’t done anything. You’re acting like we’re going to show up on Monday with trucks.”
Mayor Anthony Calderone explained that the costs the property owners were objecting to were actually price caps that costs would not be allowed to exceed, and the actual cost would likely be much less.
Chris Wessels, who owns the property at 1800 Desplaines Avenue which takes up a long stretch of Industrial Drive, objected to the village passing along the responsibility to repair streets to taxpayers.
“All of us work under the assumption that it’s the village’s responsibility to repair streets,” noting that the streets current condition is likely due to the village failing to resurface it for the past 40 years despite heavy truck traffic.
“Let’s face it ” this village named it Industrial Drive. They had to know what was going to happen to this street,” he said, noting that Industrial Drive is actually among the newer streets in Forest Park.
According to the state mandated procedure for forming an SSA, the affected property owners are given 60 days from the time of the public hearing to hand in a petition with signatures from over 50 percent of property owners who object, which automatically ends the process and prohibits the village from attempting to form an SSA for two years.
Noting that it seemed that representatives from at least half the affected properties were on hand Monday, Calderone suggested that the council be presented with an ordinance to cancel the SSA at its next meeting. If the ordinance is approved, no petition will be necessary.
“If you don’t want the SSA there’s no point in us trying to shove it down your throat,” he said.
He acknowledged that there might have been some mistakes made in terms of communication, but noted that discussions were built into the process in the form of the mandated public hearing, which was originally set for Nov. 14 but rescheduled to Monday night.
Despite Calderone’s decision, Wessels said, the property owners wanted reassurance that the street will get resurfaced another way, a promise that the commissioners said could not be made at the current time.
“If it’s going to be reconstructed at some point in the future, we’re going to have to find a grant, and nobody seems to be stepping up, or the property owners are going to have to help,” said Commissioner Mark Hosty.
Village Attorney Michael Durkin said that property owners “should be thankful” that the village did not instead impose a Special Assessment Area, in which case they would not have been given the chance to object.