Naperville Raises Hotel/Motel, Telecommunications Taxes; Denies Italian Festival

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Increased taxes on phones and hotel and motel stays are coming in Naperville as the city tries to avoid a $2.1 million property tax increase.

At its most recent meeting the Naperville City Council voted to raise the telecommunication tax from five percent to six percent and raise the hotel and motel tax from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

The city will also be applying that tax to online rentals from companies like Airbnb.

The two taxes are expected to bring in about $500,000 this year – something the mayor says will fill the $2.1 million gap.

“At this time if we do nothing, that money will come from our property taxes, so there would be a property tax increase,” said Mayor Steve Chirico. “So at this time if we approve this item this evening instead of it going to property taxes it’ll go to other revenue sources, so this will be one of them.”

Council voted unanimously to raise both rates.

Also at the meeting, council denied a request to add a three-day Italian festival to the city’s 2018 special events calendar, which was finalized in November.

“We have to draw the line somewhere so we can plan the next year ahead, and you came in after the close of the process,” said Councilman John Krummen.

Festa Italiana was planned to take place at Naper Settlement, and discussion quickly turned to questions about the city-funded museum’s purpose and the special event application process.

John Barry of Star Events planned the festival and says the city’s application process was not clear and had no application deadline on the request forms.

Councilwoman Patty Gustin and Mayor Steve Chirico questioned denying an event that would raise money for the settlement.

“As a city council we have said to the settlement ‘Do things to make it relevant do things to make it healthy, and do things to increase the budget.’ And for us to deny it is like speaking out of both sides of your mouth,” Gustin said.

Rena Tamayo-Calabrese, executive director and CEO of Naper Settlement, says increasing revenue was part of the mission she was given.

“My direction was make the museum more relevant, bring more people to the museum and revenue has to go up,” Tamayo-Calabrese explained.

City staff says they first heard about the event in October but were unable to schedule a meeting before January.

“I’m very, very puzzled by that. Three months to get a meeting together? Seems very confusing to me,” said Krummen. “That being said sounds like we need to clean up some of our processes.”

Chirico says he would not have voted to finalize the calendar in November if he had known about the event.

Council members said moving forward they want to discuss SECA processes and the museum’s mission.

Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.