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While Lincolnwood Town Center Mall Is Struggling, Official Says Village's Fiscal Footing Is Sound

LINCOLNWOOD, Ill. (CBS) -- For three decades, Lincolnwood Town Center mall has been a big sales tax generator for the Village of Lincolnwood.

But like many malls, it is struggling. Still, despite the mall's slow decline, Lincolnwood is actually on sound fiscal footing.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, the struggle is clear inside the mall. Crowds are sparse, and about a quarter of the space is vacant.

Adding to that, the mall owners are considering filing for bankruptcy.

"That would be a damn shame," said Manuel Montes, a frequent Lincolnwood mall patron.

It is a sentiment shared by many who frequent the mall. Yet despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Assistant Village Manager Chuck Meyer said Lincolnwood's sales tax revenue only dipped about $200,000.

"The village, along with a lot of other communities, actually saw sales tax go up in certain categories," Meyer said.

One category in particular is car sales. People bought cars last year.

Meyer said this does not mean Lincolnwood isn't in the hole like so many municipalities – in point of fact, it is. But it is only in the hole by about $1.5 million – a sliver of its overall budget.

Meyer expects the village will be able to fill that hole with federal funds, a new packaged liquor tax, and a meager food and beverage tax hike to 2 percent.

"What we did in looking at that was brought it up to what our neighboring communities were," he said.

Granted, Lincolnwood is much smaller than many cities facing massive deficits. But Meyer said the village usually keeps its books balanced.

And while police and village employees get pensions, the fire department in Lincolnwood is fully privatized – so no pension there. Lincolnwood also has a fully-funded rainy day fund.

Still, Meyer stresses losing the mall would be a big blow.

"I think time will tell on that," he said.

Even though Lincolnwood Town Center's future is in flux, Meyer said they still want the property to be an important part of the community. More discussions about that will be taking place in the near future.

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