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Published: Wednesday, 2/14/2007

1-time fee is mulled for new building

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Village of Whitehouse is considering charging a one-time fee for new residential, commercial, or industrial construction, village officials said.

Administrator Dennis Recker said council leans toward charging a flat fee of $1,000 per new home or building, though the assessment of a fee based on the square footage of each new building also has been discussed.

Mr. Recker said village council is pursuing the idea of a fee to defer the cost the village incurs in the first year after new construction takes place, or before real estate taxes are collected.

Whitehouse estimates that it pays an annual average of $1,700 per new house for the public services it provides.

The estimated annual average revenue generated by a new house is $1,100, which the village doesn't receive for up to a year.

"When you're getting as many as 100 new houses a year, it starts to add up," Mr. Recker said.

Mayor Stan Wielinski has stated publicly that construction in several subdivisions could add 900 more homes in the village, which would put greater financial strain on police, fire, and waste management services.

Mr. Recker said a new construction fee will help with those issues. He said the administration is working on proposed language for a fee that will soon be presented to the finance committee of council.

The administrator also said charging for new construction is just one method being considered to help offset the overall budget shortfall.

Saddled with a projected 2007 budget deficit of almost $62,000, the village decided to distribute 55 percent of income tax revenue into its general operating fund and 45 percent into its capital fund.

In years past, tax revenues in the village were divided evenly into the two funds.

Mike Nolte, the village's finance director, said if new measures are not taken in the next two years, Whitehouse could face difficulty funding its capital projects in 2009.

"This [village] doesn't have a problem in 2007 or 2008," Mr. Nolte said. "The idea is to identify some solutions before a problem is directly in front of us down the road."

Mr. Recker said of all the ideas being discussed, the new construction fee is the closest to being acted on by council. The administrator said legislation regarding the fee would likely be up for a vote in March.

The administrator also said there is a strong consensus in council against pursuing an operating levy or an income tax increase.



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