Tax proposals are usually met with resistance, but one tax extension question, on the ballot next week, is being met with open arms in Rockford.
A 1% sales tax was put in place in 2007 and has had strong support ever since.
“It’s just a better, smarter way for us to do business,” Margie Veitch, Co-Chair for Citizens For Rebuilding Rockford, said back in 2011.
Rockford supporters want to keep the tax train rolling in 2016, and on March 15 voters will be asked to hold on to a 1% sales tax.
Five years ago, the support was there, for many of the same reasons today. “We stop borrowing money. We stop paying interest on the money that would be borrowed. This method allows for people living outside of the city limits to help contribute. So, really it’s a better bang for our taxpayer buck.”
The downtown success of City Market and Stroll on State have opened eyes and wallets. Another boost could be coming with the opening of the UW Health Sports Factory and plans for a hotel and conference center near the Amerock Building.
“I totally think that this is simply an investment in the community,” said Tracie Burress, Chair for Citizens For Rebuilding Rockford. “It’s an investment in the infrastructure. It’s an investment in the roads.”
Since the tax was first installed in 2007, more than 120 miles of Rockford roads have been resurfaced and the new Morgan Bridge replaced a 100 year-old structure.
“We’re not creating debt, we’re not creating more burden on property owners,” said Rockford Area Realtors CEO Steve Bois. “We’re getting the advantages of that investment because it’s used on the sales tax side.”
Bois sees home prices on the rise in the Stateline and the overall inventory shrinking, creating a favorable marketplace for investors and more interest in taking the infrastructure to the next level.
“There’s a lot of studies out there that show when you have investments on infrastructure that you have better return for your home values,” said Bois.
But, does that investment go far enough?
Rockford Alderwoman Linda McNeely (D-12th) opposed the tax in 2011. Five years later, she feels the same way.
“I believe that they can make a decision based upon what they’re seeing,” said McNeely.
“I think it’s a no-brainer [to pass],” said Burress.