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Libertyville gets creative with biggest source of tax revenue: car sales

November 15, 2010

Libertyville’s 13 new-vehicle dealerships each will have $100 vouchers to give to 50 customers who buy or lease a new vehicle from them between June 15 and Sept. 7, under an ordinance approved May 26 by Libertyville trustees.

The Shop Libertyville Gift Certificate Program is modeled after similar gift card programs in three California cities; customers at the Libertyville dealerships will receive four $25 vouchers that can be redeemed at other businesses in the village.

Libertyville’s outlay totals $65,000. Dan Marks, proprietor of Libertyville Lincoln-Mercury Sales, said the dealers are in talks about contributing to a campaign to market the gift certificate program, and they may continue as a group beyond the program’s end to advertise Libertyville as a great destination for car buyers. Village officials also are contacting merchants to participate in the campaign.

The program begun in Tracy, Calif., in late May generated requests for 100 gift cards after three days. Shoppers there, about an hour east of San Francisco, receive $500 vouchers to redeem at other businesses in the city.

The southern California city of Palmdale has a similar gift card program that has been operating since late February. "The results have been phenomenal," said the city’s economic redevelopment director, Danny Roberts. "We’ve given away 400 of the auto gift cards since the program began." The Palmdale rebates are worth $300, and, like Tracy, are only redeemable at businesses within the city limits.

Lancaster, Calif., new-car dealers benefit from a variation of the idea; the rebate amount is determined on a sliding scale based on how much the customer paid for the state’s registration fees.

"CATA members should use these examples to contact their own municipalities to promote similar programs," said CATA Chairman John Phelan. "In times like these, every little bit helps."