The City Council will hold a public hearing next month on a proposal to increase the sales tax in Woodstock.
The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the council chambers at Woodstock City Hall, 121 W. Calhoun St.
When the proposal first was floated this spring, city officials discussed enacting a home-rule sales tax that would raise Woodstock’s rate from 7 percent to 8 percent. City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the final rate could change before the council votes on the matter, however.
“I don’t know if council has a consensus yet on the way [the increase] would go,” Stelford said.
A sales tax increase has been mulled by officials as a way to pay for more street repairs and to make up for a property tax cut passed by the City Council in March.
The 10 percent reduction to the property tax levy reduced the city’s revenues by about $924,000, but increasing the sales tax by a full percentage point would more than offset that loss, bringing in an estimated $2.34 million in additional yearly revenue, according to city documents. (A newly approved fee from the Illinois Department of Revenue that charges municipalities 2 percent on total sales tax collections would dip into that total slightly, Stelford added.)
Currently, Woodstock’s total sales tax rate of 7 percent — which is divided among the city, state and Regional Transportation Authority — is the same as in unincorporated McHenry County and many other local municipalities. McHenry’s rate is 7.5 percent, while Crystal Lake and Algonquin charge 7.75 percent. Lakewood and Lake in the Hills charge 8 percent.
The higher sales tax would apply to general merchandise, excluding things like cars, groceries and medications.
The city gained home rule status from the state of Illinois — and with it, the right to enact a home-rule sales tax — in January. The public hearing is part of a policy agreed to by the City Council in June 2016 that goes beyond the state’s regulations for home-rule municipalities. The policy includes options for added notification requirements and public hearings, among other things.
“[The hearing] is for public comments — how do they feel about the tradeoff for property tax relief and more infrastructure?” Stelford said.
Stelford said the council likely will vote on the tax increase in September. If it passes, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.