Members of the Benld City Council on Monday night approved a tax levy for 2022 property taxes payable in 2023, accepted a $185,100 bid to repaint the city’s water storage tower and agreed to spend $14,400 to purchase enzyme pellets to reduce sludge at the city’s sewage lagoon.
Finance Chair Jerry Saracco presented the levy, pointing out the committee raised individual fund levies by three percent except for the City Library levy, which was increased by five percent. The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), approved by Macoupin voters in 1995, limits taxing bodies to increasing their levies over the previous year’s extension by no more than five percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. Typically, the CPI hovers between one and three percent. This time, for the first time since 1995, the CPI exceeds five percent, meaning tax bodies theoretically to capture a full five percent increase in tax revenue.
The levy approved Monday night totals $116,912.38, compared with last year’s levy of $113,258.89.
At $41,114, the levy for Police Protection represents nearly a third of the total levy, A total of $30,300 is levied for Administration, compared with $29,447.05 last year; $4,980 for the annual audit, compared with $4,760 last year; $5,800 for Streets and Bridges, compared with $5,812.88 last year; $5,000 for Parks, compared with $4,500 last year; $6,600 for Social Security, compared with $6,470.35 last year; $1,200 for Unemployment Insurance, which is unchanged from last year; $2,300 for Workers Compensation, compared with $2,270 last year; and $6,200 for Liability Insurance, compared with $6,084.43 last year.
The levies for the municipal band and lease-rent purchases have both been reduced to zero.
Though the library is its own taxing body separate from the city, the library levy of $13,438.38 is included in the city levy request, compared with $12,798.46 last year.
WATER TOWER CONTRACT
On the recommendation of Justin VonderHaar, an engineer with HMG Engineers, the council voted unanimously to enter into a $180,100 contract with Neumann Construction to repaint the city’s water storage tank. Neumann is based in Wisconsin but does numerous projects in Illinois.
Aldermen also approved a final payout to Haier Plumbing and Heating, Okawville, in the amount of $249,980.45 for work done on the recently completed sewer replacement/improvement project.
Additionally, the council concurred with VonderHaar’s recommendation to buy 900 pounds of enzyme pellets for $14,400 to treat sludge in the city sewage lagoon. VonderHaar said the sludge survey was complete and indicated the enzyme treatment would be sufficient to reduce the sludge load in the lagoon. He also said the price of the pellets is scheduled to increase after the first of the year.
Following a brief executive session with Jono Verticchio, sitting in for City Attorney Rick Verticchio, the council agreed to increase its contract with Sam Shafer, Jr., Pontoon Beach, to raze and remove a structure on church property at 311 North Fifth Street. Shafer originally agreed to do the work for $5,800 but Verticchio said the contractor will need an additional $4,000 to comply with EPA requirements. On a motion by Ald. Dustin Fletcher, the council voted to increase Shafer’s contract to $9,800.
Ald. Jerry Saracco withdrew his motion to refer a list of nuisance properties in his ward to the City Attorney after Ald. Jim Tilashalski objected that other aldermen had not had an opportunity to view the properties for themselves. Copies of the list were distributed to council members and the issue will likely come to a vote in January.
In a related matter, the council voted to register with the County Clerk as a tax buyer for delinquent properties. The council initially discussed paying back taxes on properties being pursued under the city’s nuisance properties ordinance, but Verticchio told the council that while paying the property taxes was “a good investment,” it was too late to do it this year. He said he would contact the County Clerk to determine whether taxes had been paid by the owners if the county had acquired the properties for back taxes. If the county has purchased any of the properties, Verticchio said the city can work with the county to redeem the properties. In the meantime, Verticchio will take steps to register the city with the County Clerk as a tax buyer for delinquent properties.
In other action, the council voted unanimously to hire Candace Katchmar to clean city offices, civic center and park, and voted unanimously to approve meeting dates for 2023.