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Local Election

Sandwich sales tax referendum passes in close balloting

A narrow majority of Sandwich voters said "yes" to a request by the city to increase the city's sales tax.

A referendum placed on the April 4 ballot was approved by just eight votes. A total of 629 people cast "yes" votes on the referendum question to 621 "no" votes.

The measure passed in the DeKalb County portion of the city, 624 "yes" votes to 614 "no" votes, while in the Kendall County portion of the city, seven voters cast "no" votes on the referendum to five who cast "yes" votes.

This month's voting marked the second time the city sought approval of the sales tax hike. Voters rejected the referendum in balloting last November.

Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson said in February he believed the measure could pass in April if voters were given more information about the need for the increase.

“We’ve got to get the facts out,” he said.

The newly approved 1 percentage point sales tax increase is expected to bring in about $700,000 more a year. Olson said 65 percent of that money would come from people who live outside the city’s boundaries but shop at Sandwich businesses.

The 1 percent sales tax will be added to the existing 6.25 percent sales tax for most purchases, but will not include vehicle sales at the city's automobile dealerships.

The sales tax revenue will be used to cover the cost of running the city. Olson said the city has an operating budget of about $6 million a year. Last year, it ran a deficit. The city also plans to use some of the money for its new police station, a project expected to cost about $4 million, Olson said.

Sandwich’s sales tax is lower than many surrounding communities, Olson said.

Without the money, Olson said the city would have to make difficult decisions about how to maintain existing city services and may have had to reduce service levels.

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