Edgebrook SSA plan postponed
by BRIAN NADIG
The Edgebrook-Sauganash Chamber of Commerce is delaying efforts to form a special service area that would impose a tax on commercial properties in Downtown Edgebrook to fund local improvements.
The city has granted a one-year extension on its SSA application, and the chamber plans to send letters to the property owners in the business district explaining the delay, chamber executive director Jennifer Herren said.
The delay resulted from merchant concerns that it would be inappropriate to pursue an additional tax at a time when many businesses have been hurt by lane closures resulting from a sewer project in the commercial district.
Earlier this spring the Devon-Central intersection was closed to all traffic. The project is scheduled to be completed this summer.
"The timing is not right for it," said chamber vice president and Happy Foods owner Barbara Eastman. She said that on some days her business has been down by more than 30 percent since the lane closures started.
Eastman said that while she supports the delay, she believes that in the long run the service area would represent a positive step forward for the commercial area. Eastman said that the funds would be used for a variety of business development activities, including incentives to owners to spruce up their facades.
Special service areas are local taxing districts that fund services and programs through a tax levy on properties in the service area. A local commission of property owners would set an annual budget for the SSA.
The chamber has estimated that in the first year the tax would be $277 for properties with an equalized assessed valued of $50,000, $555 for properties with a $100,000 EAV, $1,387 for properties with a $250,000 EAV and $4,995 for properties with an $900,000 EAV.
The proposed boundaries are roughly west of Spokane Avenue, east of Algonquin Avenue, north of Caldwell Avenue and south of Tahoma Avenue. No residentially zoned properties are in the proposed SSA, according to the chamber.
Of the proposed 124 SSA properties, 96 are for commercial use, 16 are zoned for mixed-use, four are vacant, and eight are non-profit or tax-exempt.
The SSA cannot be created without letters of support from at least 20 percent of property owners within the boundaries. Service areas are located throughout the city, including in Sauganash and Six Corners.
Some of the items which SSA funds can be used for include neighborhood wayfinding signs, holiday lighting, hanging plant baskets, power-washing of sidewalks, new bike racks and a facade rebate program for business owners.