Permanent tax hike in Naperville described as 'unsustainable'
Echoing a move made by many other cash-strapped communities, Naperville is weighing whether to make permanent a temporary tax hike set to expire at year’s end, a proposal that has triggered criticism from some quarters.
Passed in September 2015, the Home Rule Sales Tax levied a surcharge of 0.5 percent on all sales within the city limits, ostensibly to pay for capital expansion, trimming debt and increasing cash on hand, according to a Sept. 14, 2017, article posted on NaperChange.org. The council had until Oct. 1 to let the tax expire or extend it indefinitely.
Julie Berkowitz, a former council candidate, says extending the tax would break a promise made to taxpayers.
“I don’t look at this as a party issue,” Berkowitz told the DuPage Policy Journal. “It passes an additional burden onto our pocketbooks, and it does impact the small businesses in our area.”
Berkowitz, who lost a bid on April 4 to be on the November ballot, said government should live within its means in much the same way individuals have to stick to their personal budgets. It's a sentiment that has been voiced by many lean-government proponents over the years.
“The city needs to tear through its budget and cut back on pet projects,” Berkowitz said. “This (tax increase) is not sustainable to the everyday taxpayer.”
But those favoring an extension of the measure note that Naperville, the state’s fifth-largest city, with a population of just under 150,000, can afford the extra tax. They point to Thomas C. Scott’s study “Rich City, Poor City: Ratings of America’s Wealth Centers,” which places Naperville as the wealthiest Midwestern city and the 11th richest nationally.
Berkowitz, however, argues that many long-term residents are not wealthy and are precisely the ones that would be overburdened by the sales tax increase. Moreover, she said, the higher taxes are driving commerce from the city.
“They’re talking about us losing our quaint, home-town taste,” she said. “This (tax increase) will not help with that.”