A tough decision could be in store for Galesburg’s city council. There’s a proposal to increase the city’s Home Rule sales tax. If approved, it would raise the sales tax in Galesburg from 1% to 1.25%. That increase would go into effect in July 2023.
“This tax is going to improve our roads, which we hear need improvement,” Galesburg mayor Peter Schwartzman said. “And it’s also going to inject life and hope in our youth.”
Galesburg held a town hall meeting Wednesday evening to allow the community to give their input on the decision.
“The city has unmet needs in their community,” Schwartzman said.
The increase in sales tax would also generate $950,000 in annual revenue for the city. That revenue would go towards improvements around the city, focusing on roads and sidewalks.
That revenue would also help fund a new community center for the city.
“When we lose community centers — and we’ve lost two of them in the last ten years — that has an effect on the social fabric of our community,” Schwartzman says.
However, there are some in the community who are not sure about raising the sales tax in the city. Matt Bernardi is a longtime business owner in Galesburg and co-owner of the restaurant Sidetrax.
“If you look at our income in our city, the median household income, it’s lower than a lot other cities that are paying the same tax rate or a lot less,” Bernardi said.
Schwartzman said the proposed ordinance would only add three cents to a $12 charge or add 25 cents to a $100 charge. And he believes the community center is a necessity for the city.
“Galesburg is an amazing city, and I feel we are just about to step into a new stage of thinking to where we really look at the challenges we face directly. And we face them together,” Schwartzman said.
The proposed location for the new community center would be the old Churchill Junior High building. Schwartzman said about half of the building would be used for the community center. The other half is slated for demolition, with all of this planning already planned into the budget.
“The school has a lot of open land — a lot of room for opportunity,” Schwartzman said.
Councilman Bradley Hix is the Ward 1 alderman in the city of Galesburg.
Hix said the timing isn’t right and the community should get to decide what they want, instead of city council.
The Galesburg city council will make have a final vote on the decision of the raised sales tax on Dec. 19.