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Palatine sales tax covers village cost of investigation
By Deedra Lawhead | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:44 PM

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Originally published Jan. 26, 1993

New sales tax revenue will help avert an economic crisis for Palatine as it faces more than $8,000 a week in bills for the police investigation of the mass murder at Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant, trustees said Monday.

Salary costs for the entire 75-member task force of federal, state, county and local law enforcement officers are mounting up at nearly $52,000 a week. While each agency is paying the salaries of its own officers, Palatine has paid nearly $21,000 in overtime salaries alone for investigators, officers and support staff during the first eight days of the investigation.

The sales tax, which generated about $167,000 in the first two months of its collection, is "what's probably been the saving grace," said Trustee Jack Wagner.

The controversial 0.5 percent local sales tax was approved last spring. While it was intended to provide extra cash in the bank to pay incoming daily bills, that revenue now is a key resource that can be earmarked specifically for the investigation or used to free up cash for the investigation from other budget accounts, said Village Manager Michael Kadlecik.

Without that money, the village may have been forced to borrow money or cut other services to pay the costs of an ongoing investigation.

"If we hadn't done that (passed the tax) we would have been in serious trouble; we would have had to have cutbacks in services," said Trustee James Wilson.

Village President Rita Mullins said: "I would feel that our budget would be in jeopardy or at least threatened had we not enacted the sales tax. Now we have some breathing room."

The average salary for a Palatine police officer is about $36,000, and 12 officers or investigators are assigned to the task force. While senior investigators generally earn more and clerical workers typically earn less, the average figure puts Palatine's salary costs at about $8,000 a week, excluding overtime pay.

Besides personnel expenses, the village also is accruing costs for materials and equipment for the massive effort. While the Quentin Road headquarters for the task force have been donated by Palatine Township Elementary District 15, the village has set aside about $6,000 for expenses like computer and copier rental.