By Ben Meyerson
River Forest voters will have a chance to weigh in on their village's sales tax rate in two weeks, but if you haven't been hanging out at village hall, you'd never know it.
The village board voted in August to put a 1 percent sales tax increase on the ballot with hopes of filling its dwindling coffers as a budget crisis looms.
The tax would bring River Forest's sales tax up to par with Oak Park, Elmwood Park, North Riverside and Melrose Park at 9.5 percent. Forest Park's is slightly lower at 9 percent and Chicago's is slightly higher at 9.75 percent.
But since putting it on the ballot after much debate amongst the trustees, there's been nary a peep on either side of the issue.
"It's just one of those things that no one's had a lot of time for," said Village President John Rigas.
River Forest resident Dan Lauber, a member of the citizens' committee that originally recommended a sales tax hike, lobbied in front of the board to put the referendum on the ballot but simply didn't have the time to lead an organized effort.
Nevertheless, he's still open to quietly lobbying for it.
"It's just really important to understand that nobody wants to raise taxes," Lauber said. "A sales tax increase of one point is not going to affect anyone."
Steve Dudek, a trustee in the minority, voted against putting the measure on the ballot in the first place. He said he doesn't think the village has done enough to cut costs to justify any kind of tax hike.
Both sides will have a chance to square off publicly outside of village hall on Oct. 27 at Lincoln School, 511 Park Ave. in River Forest, at a forum sponsored by the River Forest Service Club. Buzz Café owner and River Forest resident Laura Maychruk will moderate the debate.
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