Elk Grove Village will send a $200 Visa gift card to each of the 14,000 residences in the village this week.
Mayor Craig Johnson announced the gift card giveaway at Tuesday’s village board meeting. Johnson said the gift cards are a way to help residents offset high inflation during a period where economic activity within the village has been strong. The mayor encouraged residents to shop within the village to double the positive impact of that spending.
One $200 card will be sent to every apartment, condominium unit, townhome, and house within the village, regardless of how many people live there.
“We are so fortunate to be financially healthy enough to be able to give back to the residents of Elk Grove during times of economic challenge,” Johnson said. “The double gut punch of skyrocketing gas prices and record inflation has forced families to make tough decisions while the cost of essentials like food and gas eats up more and more of their household budget. So, we’re stepping up and doing what we can to soften the blow as much as possible.”
With the gift cards going out this week, and two past $200 water bill credits to every household in the village during the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson said the village has given back a total of $8,904,713 to residents — a point punctuated by the unveiling of a large green banner on the village board dais showing that number at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
The water bills were sent to water bill customers, including landlords and condominium associations. Landlords were then asked to give renters a $200 credit on their rent. Johnson said with direct gift cards, the money would go directly into residents’ pockets and be available to residents faster.
Johnson acknowledged that some might ask, “Why not just lower our property taxes?” The village sets property taxes by dollar amount and tries to keep that figure consistent year in and year out. He said sometimes the village has good years and sometimes bad years and said he does not want property taxes to be cut in a good year, only to have to raise taxes in a bad year.
This year has been very good in terms of sales tax, electricity tax, and building permit fee revenues, said Johnson. He said the village maintains a policy to keep a reserve fund that could fund village operations for five months. He said with these tax and building fee revenues, the village is far above that five-month reserve threshold.
The gift cards will be sent along with a separate letter from the village with instructions. The cards will be sent from a company called Perfect Gift. The cards are green and black with the words “Shop Elk Grove” on them.
There are some restrictions on what kinds of purchases can be made with the cards. Cards can not be used for gambling, at casinos, to make money transfers, purchase other gift cards, subscriptions, or online dating services.
Johnson said if gift cards do not arrive in the mail this or early next week, to contact the village as they can be tracked, canceled and new cards sent.