People share mixed opinions on proposed business district

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MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) — People made their contrasting opinions known during a public hearing about a proposed business district in the city.

The proposal includes 190 properties in and around downtown. The city is considering the idea that would pay for downtown improvements through a 1% sales tax on some retail goods.

A consultant for the city estimates it could bring in a few hundred thousand dollars every year. The city wants to repair and restore the falling facades, crumbling buildings, storm sewers, streetscapes and more. It will cost at least $9,000,000 to complete the work on everything in downtown.

The 1% sales tax does not apply to groceries, medical equipment or prescriptions, or anything licensed by the state. On Monday night people, including business owners within the proposed district, shared their thoughts for and against it.

Samantha Koon said, “Low taxes keep my prices low and this helps me to compete with larger communities like Champaign and Decatur. So whether it’s just a few cents on a beer or hundreds of dollars on a kitchen remodel, tens of dollars on new furniture, that’s money out of our pockets as consumers and business people.”

Pam Ashcraft addressed council sayin, “I would encourage you, if you’re going to pass a 1% tax to make it a fair playing field and make it on everyone, not just a select few.”

The city assured people that the money generated from the business district tax will be solely devoted to improvements in the business district and not used for anything else. Council plans to vote on this at the first meeting in August.

The business district program would last 23 years. After that, the tax would go away and the city would need to vote to reinstate it.

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