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Shabbona officials hope to pass 1 percent sales tax referendum

SHABBONA – As the weather warms and people flock to Shabbona Lake State Park, Village President Claudia Hicks hopes to turn that traffic into better roads on which it can travel.

On Tuesday, voters in Shabbona will be asked whether they will support a 1 percent sales tax increase. If approved, it will fund various projects, including road work and a well the village is building.

Hicks said that she’s not sure exactly how much the sales tax increase will bring in, if approved, but said she thinks most of it will be generated by visitors.

“We’re hoping a lot of the money will come from people outside the village,” Hicks said. “It’s better than raising property taxes. That would get everybody.”

The village will host the second of two informational meetings on the referendum at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 206 S. Blackhawk St. Hicks said a presentation by one of the trustees, followed by a question-and-answer session, should take less than a half-hour.

She said in addition to the meetings, Village Board members have been canvassing the town.

“That’s pretty much all you can do in a small village,” she said. “I’m optimistic we’ll get it passed.”

If approved, the measure will increase the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 7.25 percent on items such as prepared food, soft drinks and candy, personal hygiene products and auto parts bought within the village. 

Waterman voters overwhelmingly approved a 1 percent sales tax increase in spring of 2016, with 262 voting in favor and 133 opposed.

The tax already has brought in $84,000 for Waterman, with the last of the 12 annual payments still coming.

Waterman’s population is a shade less than 1,500, compared with Shabbona’s population of just less than 1,000.

This is Shabbona’s first crack at the tax increase referendum, and Hicks hopes it’s the last.

“For some towns, it’s taken three or four tries,” she said. “Hopefully, we can get it through in one time.”

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