Elburn may suspend senior tax rebate program

Village issued $10,318 in rebates to 131 seniors
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Finance Committee decided Monday that the village should eliminate its utility tax rebate program for senior citizens because of the cost.

Under the program started more than 10 years ago, Elburn senior citizens have been allowed a 75 percent refund of utility taxes.

Because of misuse and potential further misuse of the program, the Finance Committee recommended that the Village Board eliminate the rebates, at least for 2009. The Village Board is expected to vote on the measure Monday, Sept. 21.

Trustee Bill Grabarek and other committee members want the village to revise the program to eliminate misuse and possibly bring the rebates back in the future.

“For the folks who are on a fixed income, it is a bit of a relief,” Grabarek said of the program’s potential to be reinstated.

To be eligible, a resident must be 62 years old and provide the village with copies of household utility bills—gas, electric and telephone including cell phone—from the previous year.

An example of the program’s misuse is that one senior resident submitted bills and requested utility tax rebates for eight cell phones, Grabarek said.

Without the rebate program, the village could save more than $10,000 annually, village officials said. Committee member and trustee Patricia Romke said the rebate program should allow rebates only for gas, electric and land-phone bills.

“I think that we would like to do this if we can afford to do it,” Romke said.

Grabarek said another change to reduce the program’s cost could be making the eligibility age 65.

If the Village Board agrees to eliminate the senior utility tax rebate program for 2009, the village will recommend that interested seniors save their 2010 bills so that if the program is reinstated, they will be prepared to submit them in 2011 for rebates.

Municipal taxes typically are up to 6 percent of a phone bill and 5 percent of a gas bill, and electric bill municipal taxes are based on kilowatt use, Assistant Village Manager David Morrison said.