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Homes in business tax expansion questioned

The proposed expansion of a downtown Joliet tax was subject to questioning for including some residential property.

The matter, which was discussed last week by the Joliet City Council, arose in the wake of city action taken to approve the expansion of the proposed boundary for the special downtown business tax district.

Joliet officials voted to add two parcels belonging to the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate owner after testimony provided during an Oct. 18 public hearing showed the property wasn’t fully included.

Under state statute, the city is allowed to expand the proposed boundary only during the meeting immediately following the public hearing.

Joliet councilwoman Brooke Hernandez Brewer cast the lone dissenting vote. During the last public hearing, she recalled hearing from owners who couldn’t afford the special business tax and others who held homes within the proposed special taxing district.

“We did hear from people that wanted not to be included in the boundary, however,” Hernandez Brewer said.

Hernandez Brewer questioned if there was another way to establish the boundaries without hindering those interested in being part of the proposed business tax.

City Manager Jim Hock tried to explain.

“As much as possible when we establish these boundaries, we excluded residential wherever we could,” he said. “But, the properties have to be contiguous; they have to have a common boundary. You can see on the map we carved out wherever we could, but there are a few residential locations.”

Hernandez Brewer said she is concerned about not being able to amend the ordinance in the future.

Hock said the city’s vote is not intended to provide the final say on the matter.

State law dictates that a 60-day period follow the public hearing to allow for up to 51 percent of residential and property owners to file a protest with the city. Should that occur, the ordinance to propose the expansion of the downtown business tax couldn’t take effect.

Under the proposal, the expanded area would include business, commercial and industrial property beginning at but not including Collins Street Prison as the boundaries travel south on Collins Street toward Joliet Township High School, and extends from Train Bridge along Cass Street toward South Chicago Street to I-80.

Under the new proposal, there is no change to current property owners already paying the special tax. For property owners included in the expansion, the new rate will result in a property tax increase of 8.6 percent. Expansion will allow the new special service area to generate an added $230,000 for economic development purposes.

Hock said if the boundaries of the map are expanded, community input among members of the expanded taxing district will be key.

Hock emphasized that dollars generated by the special business tax will work for the greater good of the community.

“The City Center Partnership’s looking to change their bylaws to make sure that they broaden their membership and make sure they include these business and property owners,” he said. “Even residents can be part of the board and have input on how these funds are expended in the future.”

The council will vote on the proposed expansion of the special taxing district Dec. 20.

Joliet launches new Facebook page

A new Facebook page, dubbed as Up-to-Date with Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk, was recently launched.

Mayor Bob O’DeKirk said the effort to launch the online initiative is something the city has been looking into.

“One of the complaints that I’ve heard with all the things happening in the city is some people were complaining that they weren’t receiving notification of events or things that happen until after the fact, until we had talked about it, read about it in the paper,” he said. “We’re trying to make things more current for people on Facebook.”

The page includes media releases, job postings for the city, community events and some Joliet history.

“Anybody who is interested and want to stay current, feel free to reference that Facebook page, Up-to-Date with Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk,” he said.

Will County Habitat for Humanity to fill former Century Tile lot

The Joliet City Council approved a request for special use to allow Will County Habitat for Humanity to relocate to the former lot once occupied by Century Tile.

The city’s action last week allows the business to move from 200 Larkin Ave. to 1395 Larkin Ave.

Joliet officials recently denied a petition to allow a DriveTime used car sales lot.

The city said that, while the new building is smaller than the resale shop’s current facility, it is more adaptable to the business’ needs and offers greater visibility.

The Joliet City Council approved the special use under the condition that long-term outside storage of donated goods is not permitted on site.

Joliet OKs pact with Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board

Joliet officials formed an agreement with the Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board to purchase radio communication and computer equipment to be used by the Joliet Fire Department.

Council action allows Joliet to receive a $90,575 grant from Will County 9-1-1 to assist in purchasing the equipment. In doing so, Joliet officials also authorized the Joliet Fire Department to move forward with the purchase now that an agreement is in place for reimbursement.


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