Just like everywhere else in Illinois, Cherry Valley residents have to pay property taxes – for schools, township and county government, and other public entities. But not for their village government.
That's what we found out in recent days as Dixon officials announced that they were poised to hire Cherry Valley's longtime former village administrator, David Nord, as the city's first administrator.
How can Cherry Valley get by?
In two words, sales taxes.
The village has the advantage of having CherryVale Mall and Magic Waters within its boundaries.
These are places where the more than 100,000 residents of neighboring Rockford like to go, not to mention the tens of thousands from elsewhere in Winnebago County and other places.
The residents of Rockford, long an economic basketcase, spend their money in Cherry Valley, but their city government does not benefit.
Hardly seems fair.
We have a similar situation in Sterling and Rock Falls. This is one community, but technically two municipalities. So all of that sales tax revenue from the commercial development on East Lincolnway goes into Sterling's coffers, not Rock Falls'.
Still, just about everyone in Rock Falls shops on East Lincolnway.
U.S. Census figures from 2007 reflect that: Sterling businesses have far more retail sales per capita than Rock Falls – $17,059 to $12,947 – and that was before some stores set up shop.
That is the way it works. Still, it hardly seems fair.
Can you imagine if the east and west sides of Sterling split? West Sterling, already disadvantaged economically, would suffer even more without the benefit of Sterling's greater sales tax revenue.
That's pretty much the situation with Rock Falls, which, statistics show, is poorer than Sterling.
If Sterling and Rock Falls merged – a prospect that many put in the never-will-happen category – Rock Falls would benefit from the sales tax revenue on both sides of the river.
And Sterling would gain from Rock Falls' motel revenue. Sterling has no motels.
A win-win for both towns?
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley or 800-798-4085, ext. 525.