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Niles rejects sales tax increase for Golf Mill mall

Niles trustees have quashed a proposed sales tax increase to help fund a construction upgrade that would have upped taxes in the Golf Mill Shopping Center.

Opponents contended the measure was corporate welfare, but proponents argued the business district would have jump started the economy and improved the facilities of the aging shopping mall.

Trustee Chris Hanusiak said Golf Mill has flooded four times.

“That’s a maintenance issue,” he said. “If you flood one time and didn’t fix it. Why did it flood three more times? It’s difficult for me to say we should raise taxes when sewers and roofs weren’t maintained.”

But Trustee Andrew Przybylo said he toured the mall with his fellow trustees and was impressed when mall management explained their mall improvement plans.

“This is a very positive thing,” he said. “Today I will tell you government and private cooperation is what is called for in this economic environment. It’s not just about profits of a business but it’s about the community and the community they serve.”

In January, the village increased the Niles sales tax 0.25 percent which takes effect July 1. At its March 27 the board decided a second increase was too much, too soon.

The sales tax at Golf Mill would have increased 0.25 percent to 9.75 percent and the proceeds of the greater tax rate would have helped fund a $12.5 million construction project.

Golf Mill business currently contribute $2.7 million in sales tax to village coffers per year. The mall’s businesses paid about 12 percent of the village’s total sales tax receipts, which is its largest account.

Golf Mill consultants told the Village Board they were unable to secure a development loan with an accompanying tax district, and other area malls have utilized such tax schemes to fund infrastructure improvements.

Recently, the mall took a hit when the Elephant Bar closed after only about 18 months in business.

Mall Manager Mike Williams said a new tenant has been found to occupy this space, but he declined to name the entity.

Williams said he was disappointed the village chose not to partner with the mall, but its planned renovation plans will continue nonetheless.

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