Business owner weighs in as Marion approves sales tax increase

Going shopping in Marion, Illinois, will soon cost you a little bit more. City leaders approved a 0.25 percent sales tax increase during a special meeting Monday, but not everyone in town is sold on the benefits of the tax hike.

This time of year, Melise Oakley has no trouble staying busy running her boutique in Marion. 

"This is extremely busy. It’s our biggest time this season. We’re getting into the prom season," said Oakley, owner of Melise’s Boutique in Marion. 

Oakley said a tax increase, however small, is concerning. She said she can see the benefits as the city’s economy continues to grow rapidly, but she worries her customers will drive to her competitors in towns or states where the taxes may be lower.

"Of course, I don’t want taxes to be raised. But, if we do that, it would be for a good cause, so I support Marion," Oakley said. But, she said she doesn’t think they’ll lose much if any business, because customers come in for the quality and service, not the price.

Marion Mayor Bob Butler said he doesn’t believe the extra 0.25 percent will hurt businesses or consumers, but the extra $600,000 the tax increase would bring in each year will help the city.

"It is necessitated, because the cost of government keeps increasing. We have supplies, we have equipment that we have to purchase, and you always have to have money to pay for it," Butler said. 

Butler says he feels the city has been a good steward of the taxpayer money coming in and the increase, he said, adding that the city hasn’t asked for an increase like this in around 10 years.

"Marion is growing leaps and bounds, so it’s very important to keep that going," Oakley said. 

The tax increases from 8.25 percent to 8.5 percent in July. 

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