The Clarendon Hills Village Board will hold a public hearing to discuss a proposed Special Service Area (SSA) to cover the costs of snow removal in the village's central business district. If the ordinance is not approved, business owners will have to pay for their own snow removal downtown this year.
The village has provided sidewalk snow removal services downtown out of its general fund since 2000. This service has proven to be expensive, however—costing the village up to $45,000 a year. Despite reducing the scope of snow removal services for the business district last winter, the village still spent $29,000.
"We are seeking to create an SSA so that we don't have sidewalk snow removal competing with core services within the general fund," said Christina Collison, management analyst for the village.
In 1998, downtown business owners approved a plan for the creation of an SSA to fund streetscape improvements and other beautification projects in the central business district. This paid for planter beds, stone walls and brick-inlaid streets, among other projects. Property owners within the SSA pay a tax rate of $0.55 per equalized assessed value of their property. Therefore, a business with an estimated market value of $150,000, for example, pays taxes of $275 a year.
The current SSA is set to expire in 2012, with the final payment from taxpayers being in 2011. The village seeks to end the current SSA one year early—so that the final payment from taxpayers would be in 2010.
The village would then create a new SSA that would fund snow removal, maintenance and other beautification services. The creation of the new SSA would not mean a tax increase for business owners, because it would continue to be assessed at the same rate as the current SSA. If approved, business owners would begin paying for the new SSA starting in May of 2011.
If the proposed ordinance to create an SSA is not approved, the village will discontinue providing snow removal services, and affected business owners would be required to remove snow from their sidewalks at their own expense.
In a letter to the village dated July 28, 2010, Village President Thomas A. Karaba stated, "We understand that this is a tough economic time for many businesses. However, the Village believes that by working together, we can ensure the efficient provision of services, continued pedestrian access to the downtown during the winter months, and sustained enhancements to the downtown area without increasing taxes."
In order to pass, a majority of electors and property owners in the SSA would have to approve the plan. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is scheduled for Mon., Sept. 20, at 5 7 p.m. at the village hall.
*Please note: An earlier version of this story said that snow removal is currently being covered by the 1998 SSA. It actually is being paid for by the village's general fund. Special thanks to Christina Collison, Clarendon Hills management analyst for bringing this to our attention. The earlier version also stated that the public hearing is at 5 p.m. on Sept. 20. It actually is at 7 p.m.