Tax hike defeat forcing Hebron to consider park fees
HEBRON - Voters continued refusal to increase add a half percent to Hebron's one percent income tax will likely lead to user fees for organized groups using the village's two parks.
The latest effort was rejected by a 520 - 402 vote on November 4. Thanks to a 100 percent credit for any municipal taxes paid, most residents don't pay the tax. Most of the revenue comes from non-residents who work at businesses in the industrial park.
Village officials warned in a series of published reports to residents before the election that without increased revenue, reductions in services will have to begin. Monday night at the combined council committees meeting, members discussed a draft proposal for park facility use fees.
"I wish we had sufficient funding from the public to support the parks," Village Administrator Mike McFarland said. He noted that voters had rejected a specific property tax for parks and several efforts to increase the income tax.
User fees are the way everyone is going, McFarland added, even in the national parks.
The draft proposal covers the Canal Park softball fields and the Evans Park sports fields for baseball, soccer and flag football. Seasonal leagues would pay $20 per player based on team rosters. There would be a $75 fee per team for tournament play. League use of a concession stand would be $100 per month or any part of a month.
Council member Scott Walters thought $75 per team entered in a tournament seemed a bit high. Council member John Fry wants to get feedback from league organizers before setting fees. "Let's work with these people," he said. "Maybe they have ideas we haven't thought about."
Council members Annelle Porter and Erin Finkes were a bit skeptical about what would be gained by talking with the leagues. The problem, McFarland said, is that the village is supporting a regional park system by itself. Moving to a fee system for organized activities will help the village maintain the parks.
Members informally agreed with Fry's suggestion to discuss fees with the leagues. Village officials typically meet with the leagues in February to work out the details for the upcoming seasons. This year use fees will be part of that discussion.