WEST TOWN — As the deadline for a proposed renewal and expansion of a special tax levy draws near, a public meeting scheduled for Monday night aims to solicit "support, opposition, questions, or concerns" about the plan, according to organizers.
"It is important to let us know now if you are opposed to being included in the SSA, since adjustments to the map cannot be made after February," read an update posted to the West Town Chamber of Commerce's Facebook page on Saturday.
The levy is currently used for snow removal, decorative banners, branded garbage cans, street sweeping, facade improvement and street festivals, among other things.
Monday's meeting is the third of four public meetings to discuss the proposed renewal of Special Service Area 29, which could result in increases to residential and commercial property tax bills ranging from $460 to $1,100 annually, depending on the size of a property, according to information shared at a November gathering.
Reached by phone Monday, West Town resident Carmine Macchiaroli, owner of an Ace Hardware at 1013 N. Ashland Ave., said, "My comment would be it's not something for my block. I polled my neighbors, they're not interested."
At November's meeting, which was attended by about 30 people, Macchiaroli was one of a small handful of "stakeholders," or people in the district boundaries who would be affected by the expanded boundaries.
SSA No. 29 district already exists but the new map has some areas removed and other parts of West Town added.
Last October, a small but vocal group of property owners in one section of Damen Avenue gathered enough signatures of opposition from property owners on their street to be removed from the proposed future map.
Scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2230 W. Chicago Ave., the purpose of the gathering is to gain feedback from taxpayers on a proposed 15-year renewal of the West Town Special Service Area taxpayer district.
After feedback from the four meetings, as well as a survey of residents and any additional feedback collected from e-mails and calls to the West Town Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer Advisory Committee will vote on the new SSA map, Tax cap, and budget for the SSA's first year (starting in 2015), said Katherine Wakem, program manager of the SSA No. 29.
Wakem said the group's application will be turned into the city in February, so "all feedback must come in by Jan 30."
The tax district affects property owners living on thoroughfare streets such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Ogden, Ashland and Damen avenues.
The new 2105 West Town district will now include Ashland Avenue between Division Street and Chicago Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue from Division Street to Erie, and Damen Avenue from Chicago Avenue to Huron.
The proposed boundaries of the future SSA No. 29 district are as follows:
• Chicago Avenue from Western to Halsted
• Ashland Avenue from Chicago to Division
• Milwaukee Avenue from Erie to Division
• Damen Avenue from Chicago to Huron
• Ogden Avenue from the Kennedy Expressway to Fry
West Town's SSA No. 29 is one of 47 existing districts in the city that have an aggregate budget of $26 million, typically spent on supplemental services such as maintenance, public way upkeep, safety, and facade improvements.
West Town's Special Service Area is one of four existing districts that will be coming up for renewal at the end of 2014, while the city also has plans to add five new Special Service Area districts.
In addition to Monday's meeting, a fourth and final meeting to discuss the proposed expansion and renewal is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan 21 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2230 W. Chicago Ave.