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Planned Tax Hike To Spruce Up Jefferson Park Businesses in Limbo

 Jefferson Park Business District
Jefferson Park Business District
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — A plan to raise taxes in the Jefferson Park Business District by an average of $1,100 a year to fund an effort to fill empty storefronts and spruce up the commercial district along Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues will stay in limbo for several more weeks.

A meeting planned Tuesday morning to reconsider the decision to drop plans to create a Special Service Area between Milwaukee Avenue between Montrose Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway, as well as to Lawrence Avenue between Austin Avenue and the Kennedy was canceled, said Executive Director Amie Zander.

The issue is now scheduled to be discussed at 9 a.m. Sept. 10 at at Gale Street Inn, 4914 N. Milwaukee Ave., Zander said.

Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce President Lionel Rabb said he had changed his mind about creating a Special Service Area after homeowners objected to being asked to foot the bill for improvements designed to bring new life to the business district.

The vote to drop the creation of the Special Service Area came several weeks ago at a meeting of the chamber's board although the issue was not on the meeting's agenda, and nearly half of the board's members were not present, although enough members were present for the vote to count, Zander said.

Board members not present at the meeting asked for the vote to be reconsidered, Zander said.

There are five single-family homes within the boundaries of the Special Service Area as originally proposed, whose owners would see their taxes rise by about $300 a year. The owners of the 386 condominiums in the area would pay an additional $200 a year, officials said.

The tax hike was endorsed by 20 percent of the 703 property owners in the area, as required for approval by the city, Zander said.

The steering committee that had been working to establish the special service area set a tentative annual budget of approximately $220,000 to fund efforts to attract new businesses by hiring real estate brokers to market the empty storefronts as well as to push Jefferson Park as a great neighborhood to open a business, Zander said.

The initial budget would have spent the largest chunk of money — $82,000 — on fixing up public property and improving the area's aesthetics, officials said.

The owner of an average commercial property in the business district would see the tax bill rise $1,118 a year if the plan is implemented. The owner of an average mixed-use property — with both residential and business tenants — would pay an extra $560 year while the owner of an average residential property would pay an additional $170 a year, officials said.

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