Damage to residential properties on the city’s southwest side is playing a role in a projected property tax rate increase for the 2015 tax year for Benld residents. The increase will be likely to appear on tax bills mailed from the County Treasurer’s office in 2016.
Members of the city council voted unanimously Monday night to adopt $100,901.63 tax levy for the 2015 fiscal year. The Property Tax Limitation Law (PTELL) in place for Macoupin County taxing bodies restricts the city from increasing the levy by more than five percent or by the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. This year, the CPI is only one half of one percent, Peyton Bernot, Finance Committee chair, told the council. That small increase will take the levy upward only about $500–from $100,399.64 last year to $100,901.63 for 2015.
However, Bernot said he checked with the Macoupin County Clerk’s office and learned that the city’s total equalized assessed valuation is down by nearly three percent. Because of that decline, the tax rate (the amount that has to be applied to the EAV to yield the levy) is expected to go up from $1.04 per $100 assessed valuation to $1.18 per $100 assessed valuation. While the levy is increasing by only one half of one percent, the tax rate will increase by about 13 percent because of the decline in the city’s total EAV.
A number of homeowners who experienced mine subsidence damage were able to have their home’s assessment for taxation purposes reduced
“How is that (mine subsidence) affecting this?” asked Mayor Gloria Sidar.
Bernot replied that in examining a reassessment list published last week, he found that a number of homes had been reassessed in the neighborhood most affected by mine subsidence activity. In other words, a number of homeowners who experienced damage were able to have their home’s assessment for taxation purposes reduced. The reductions overall resulted in forcing the city’s total EAV by nearly three percent, according to Bernot.
A separate levy for the Frank Bertetti Benld Public Libary also was approved in the amount of $11,500.11 – an increase of about $57 from a year ago.
Broken down by fund, the levy approved Monday night is as follows:
- Corporate $27,981.72
- Police Protection $7,975.09
- Street & Bridge $5,117.11
- Park $5,789.83
- Audit $8,717.29
- Workers’ Comp $6,956.77
- Liability Insurance $6,956.77
- Unemployment Insurance $2,694.42
- Social Security $17,082.83
- Lease, Purchase, Rent $9,998.55
- Band $1,631.25
MOTOR FUEL TAX PROGRAM
Council members also voted unanimously to appropriate $46,500 in motor fuel tax funds for next year’s street maintenance program. Doug Ratterman of Henry, Meisenheimer and Gende Engineers, presented an estimated cost of $42,341.48 for street maintenance in 2016, but warned the price of materials when the program gets underway could have an impact on the amount of work that ultimately is done. The current estimate calls for sealing and chipping 35,000 square yards of street surfaces, plus a ton of bituminous patch material and a ton of aggregate for patching streets that are not resurfaced next summer.
“Once we get prices, we can back out those figures and possibly stretch the square yardage we are able to do,” Ratterman noted.
While the estimated cost is slightly more than $42,000, Ratterman said the Illinois Department of Transportation allows municipalities to appropriate up to a 10 percent cushion for the motor fuel tax program.
In a related matter, the council also approved a resolution drafted by the Illinois Municipal League calling upon Gov. Bruce Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Mike Madigan and other legislative leaders to release non-general fund revenues that are due to municipalities and other governmental units statewide. Distribution of motor fuel tax funds to municipalities currently is frozen due to the lack of a state budget. The state has been without a budget since June 1 due to an impasse between the governor and legislative leaders. The Village of Wilsonville is among area communities that have passed an identical resolution in recent weeks. Mayor Sidar said she would send copies of the resolution to Rauner as well as legislative leaders.
Also in an effort to protect motor fuel tax funds, the council authorized the Mayor to move the city’s motor fuel tax account out of Illinois Funds to First National Bank, a local banking institution. Illinois Funds was touted as a cooperative alternative to traditional banking, allowing taxing bodies statewide to pool resources for better interest rates and other advantages. However, Sidar reported Monday night that U.S. Bank is in the process of absorbing Illinois Funds.
“They are charging us for everything,” Sidar said, “writing a check, not writing a check. . . .” Switching the fund to FNB, she said, will eliminate the excessive bank fees.
ROUTE 66 MEMBERSHIP DROPPED
After some discussion, the council took no action on paying $200 in dues to renew the city’s membership in the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway organization. Mayor Sidar said Build Benld paid the dues on behalf of the city last year, but had decided not to pay them this year. She read from a letter to her advising the city of Build Benld’s decision which said “we feel this does not bring any revenue to Benld or to local merchants.”
Ald. Teressa Tucker agreed, saying she could not see where the membership had benefitted the city.
“I understand their Blue Carpet Corridor event was very successful for businesses in Edwardsville,” Sidar said. “We had a lot of cars going through, but none stopping.”
The council also declined to act on requests for donations from the local elementary school’s Adopt-A-Class and Holiday Raffle programs, and a half-time basket shooting contest at the high school level. Mayor Sidar said the city does not have the money for donations, but encouraged individual alderpersons to donate if they wished.
Without taking formal action, the council generally authorized the Mayor to seek pricing for a new furnace to replace one that failed at the Civic Center. City Property Chair Brian Frensko said repairing the furnace would cost only about $300 less than replacing it. City Attorney Rick Verticchio said the Mayor could replace the furnace without bidding on an emergency basis since colder weather is expected to start soon. Under that scenario the council will simply be asked to approve payment of the bill when it comes in.
Sidar indicated that she will send a thank you note to DeLaurent Construction for sealing the tennis court/basketball court at Veterans Park.
Acting on the recommendation of Ald. Jim Tilashalski, the council voted to declare a property on the southeast corner of the intersection of Central Avenue and Sixth Street a public nuisance. The action authorizes the city attorney to contact the owner, Ballinger Real Estate, and notify them that they have 30 days to abate the nuisance. Verticchio also advised the council he is continuing to work toward obtaining deeds for two condemned properties on which the city has liens.
Sidar reported she had given the city’s employee policy manual to Verticchio for review after she encountered a problem with administering provisions of the sick leave policy. Without discussing specifics, Sidar said the policy was extremely vague. After referring the issue to Verticchio, she said it was discovered there are provisions in state law that supercede local policy. Verticchio is expected to review the entire policy in the next few weeks, Sidar said, “so we don’t have a situation like this one come up again.”
Council members voted unanimously to approve a contract with Water Operator Ray Weller. The measure was a formality to bring the city into compliance with IEPA regulations requiring a contract between municipalities and water operators.
In other action, the council voted unanimously to appoint Anthony Kravanya as the city’s representative on the Gillespie-Benld Ambulance Service Board of Trustees.
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