McHenry Council Considers Raising City Sales Tax 50%

McHenry City Hall on this rainy day.

To raise the McHenry City Sales Tax 50% or not.

That was the question last night at a sparsely attended public hearing.

It’s less than the Crystal Lake City Council raised its City Sales Tax. In the county’s biggest municipality, the rate was hiked 75%.

Right after the legislature tripled the RTA sales Tax.

The goal of those in support of the tax is to extract another $1.5 million from area shoppers.

McHenry Finance Director Chris Black says that is needed to hold off a deficit and pay bills.
According to him, the city has been deficit spending for the past two budget cycles.

There were a dozen or more residents who came out for the hearing.

When Mayor Sue Low called for public comment, the first lady on the list stated that she was against the tax increase, but did not wish to speak, she stated that she thought the list was, “just a sign-in sheet.”

In all, seven residents took the podium to speak against the tax hike

And there was on man who said he was “neither for nor against a tax hike, but just wants the city to examine all the options before raising the sales tax.”

Some of the statements from the public included, the following;

“Why can’t we cut the $500,000 police pension?”

“The unions already gave an $80,000 concession. We could ask for that 10-fold and it wouldn’t amount to half of the proposed tax increase.”

“A tax increase during a recession when we have

  • 10% unemployment,
  • property values plummeting,
  • while property taxes are staying the same or increasing, and
  • an overabundance of boarded-up businesses

is not the time to propose a tax hike.”

One resident asked if a “Sin Tax,” an additional tax on only alcohol and tobacco might be a better option. That question drew murmurs from the crowd as if some might find this idea acceptable.

After the public had completed their comments, Mayor Low thanked the eight who had the courage to speak, but she lamented the fact that out of a city of 25,000 only eight chose the speak.

The Mayor then asked for questions or comments from the City Council.

Five members spoke, many of whom described the process of deciding on a tax increase to be a difficult task.

Some of the council members’ statements are follow:

“Perhaps we could do a combination of 1/4% tax increase and additional cuts to the budget.”

“Could we put a ‘Sunset’ provision in place so that when the economy improves we can repeal the tax hike?”

“A big part of our deficit is the $500,000 police pension, which we have no control over.”

One Alderman stated that he was surprised that nobody had come-out in favor of the tax increase.

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