Sears, Carsons sales tax losses will hurt Cal City finances

2013-07-01T00:00:00Z 2013-07-01T23:23:12Z Sears, Carsons sales tax losses will hurt Cal City financesGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | The city's proposed budget seeks a 2.4 percent boost in money for the current fiscal year, yet officials said Monday they are skeptical they will be able to collect it.

The reason, Calumet City Finance Director John Kasperek said, is he believes tax collections for Calumet City government for the last fiscal year were particularly good.

When combined with River Oaks Shopping Center lossing Sears and Carson, Pirie, Scott, two of its major anchor stores, he said officials may wind up having less money available for this year.

“It comes down to the sales tax,” Kasperek said. “I’m not sure we’re going to make our (financial) targets.”

Kasperek addressed the City Council’s finance committee – which was to meet Monday and today to review various portions of the city spending plan for the fiscal year that began May 1 and runs through April 30, 2014.

The budget proposal prepared by Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, with help from Kasperek and city Treasurer Gerald Tarka, calls for a corporate fund of $35.4 million – 2.4 percent more than was budgeted for the last fiscal year.

Of that money, $29.98 million comes from the various taxes and fees collected by city government. Kasperek said the city collected just under $31 million from those taxes and fees last year, but said he lowered the figure.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic,” he said.

Third Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones wanted to know exactly how much money Calumet City government would lose in taxes due to the loss of Sears at River Oaks mall. Jones, in his role as a state legislator, has a resolution that seeks to have Sears repay financial benefits it received in recent years to keep its corporate headquarters in Illinois.

Both Kasperek and Qualkinbush said it would be impossible to provide such a figure until later this year when city officials are able to see exactly how much less they are receiving from the Illinois Department of Revenue in the form of tax reimbursements.

One area where Kasperek was optimistic was in the form of fines collected for violations captured by the cameras at traffic intersections. The finance director said Calumet City collected about $102,000 in such fines last year.

“We might do better this year," he said.

City officials also reviewed financial expenditures for the portions of the city budget that cover the costs of the mayor’s office, the aldermen and the city clerk’s office. Those expenses – including salaries – are largely expected to remain the same.

The budget does include two new positions in the mayor’s office – an administrative assistant and a new secretary.

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