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City Poised to OK 15-Year Extension of Special Tax District

 The special tax district on Morse Avenue in Rogers Park helps pay for snow removal, festivals and extra garbage pickup.
The special tax district on Morse Avenue in Rogers Park helps pay for snow removal, festivals and extra garbage pickup.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — A special tax district, stretching along sections of Clark Street and Morse and Glenwood avenues, could be renewed for another 15 years — with a slight increase in property tax.

The 10-year-old Special Service Area 24 — which funnels a percentage of property taxes for use on neighborhood projects such as street cleaning, decorative banners and festivals — expires at the end of the year.

The city is seeking to extend its life while expanding its southern Clark Street boundary one block from Wallen Avenue to Albion Avenue.

"I think the SSA has worked very well for our community," said Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who supports the renewal.

Currently, property owners within the service area pay an additional property tax of $600 per $100,000 of assessed property value, according to the Office of the Inspector General.

The proposed changes would increase the tax next year to $610 per $100,000 of assessed value and would limit the increases in the tax to $630 per $100,000 for the next 15 years.

A commission of neighborhood residents appointed by the city and managed by the Rogers Park Business Alliance set the tax district's budget, which totaled $438,969 in 2011.

Annie Coakley, a representative with the Department of Housing and Economic Development, said 20 percent of property owners would need to sign an agreement in order for the city to renew the tax district.

Kimberly Bares, the former director of the Rogers Park Business Alliance who runs a private consulting firm, said 250 surveys completed by business owners in the current boundaries of the SSA showed they appreciated what had been done over the past 10 years to improve the area.

Since 2010, Bares said, the properties within the tax district had seen a 25 percent drop in assessed value.

If the renewal is approved, commercial properties would pay an average of $1,371 next year in the additional tax, while residential properties would pay $382, according to Bares' analysis.

"Making the streets more attractive for customers to come and shop helps the businesses," said Al Goldberg, who owns a building at the corner of Morse and Glenwood avenues.

"As a taxpayer, I'm looking at the big picture. We've seen a lot of stability and growth in the area for a lot of reasons, but the SSA was on of the things," Goldberg said.