Lisle mayoral candidates differ on property tax freeze
by Robert Sanchez, Daily Herald
A proposed property tax freeze for Lisle has become a central issue in the village's mayoral race. Chris Pecak, who is challenging longtime Mayor Joseph Broda, says he believes a property tax freeze for the village is possible if officials eliminate wasteful spending and increase the number of businesses in town. Broda, however, said it doesn't make sense to freeze the levy -- the portion of the budget paid for with property taxes -- because most of that money pays for police services and police pensions. He also says village property taxes make up only about 6 percent of the average bill. "Most of our expenses are covered by sales tax and fees," said Broda, who is seeking his fifth term. But Pecak, a construction project manager, and other members of his Prosperity for Lisle slate, argue that steps should be taken to control village spending. For example, he said, Lisle spends tens of thousands of dollars a year on water for the splash pad at Prairie Walk Pond at Route 53 and Burlington Avenue. The village also spent roughly $20,000 on holiday decorations for downtown. "We need to take a look at how we're spending our money," Pecak said. "I agree that a property tax freeze won't be easy. But we need to take a look at where our money is going." Broda, meanwhile, insists the village doesn't spend money frivolously. "When you're sitting in the back seat, it's easy to challenge where the driver is going," he said. Broda said Prairie Walk Pond and the splash pad are enjoyed by a number of residents and their children each year. The village also decorates the downtown during the holidays because the community appreciates it. "We're promoting downtown," he said. "We're making it a lively spot." Broda said downtown is continuing to improve because of the redevelopment of the former village hall site. As part of that project, Naperville-based Marquette Companies is building a $50 million development with apartments, restaurants and retail at Main Street and Burlington Avenue. In addition to bringing new residents to Lisle, Broda says the two multistory buildings -- expected to be completed this fall -- will be a catalyst for other development. Still, Pecak says there needs to be a greater focus on redeveloping other parts of the village. "We're losing businesses in Lisle," he said. "We need to get sales-tax generating businesses back in Lisle." To make that happen, Pecak said the village needs a new administration and "a whole new attitude." The business community needs to know that Lisle welcomes development and new businesses, he said. Despite Pecak's criticism, Broda said the village's sales tax revenue has been rising over the past four or five years. "It's not increasing by leaps and bounds, but it's increasing," Broda said. "Every single year we're getting more businesses in town." Meanwhile, village officials are actively working to recruit more businesses. The problem is representatives from other towns are doing the same thing. "Every municipality is trying to pull the same business in," Broda said. "It's difficult."