Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mon December 21, 2009
City Blames State for Size of Tax Levy
Macomb, IL – Macomb is asking for a 6.8% increase in the amount of property tax money it receives next year. Macomb says it's asking for that much because the state is mandating the city put an extra $260,000 into its police and fire pension funds.
"That is the major reason for this increase," says Alderman At Large Dennis Moon. "That is out of our hands. We have no control over what the state tells us we have to do as far as funding the retirement plans."
The proposed tax levy increase would generate an extra $106,450, which is not enough to cover the state-mandated pension funds increase. City Administrator Dean Torreson says the rest will come from cash reserves. Mayor Mick Wisslead says it's a good thing the city has reserves on hand.
"If we didn't have some good reserves that we built up over the years we'd be in very dire straits," says Wisslead.
In all, the city will be asked to contribute around $920,000 to the police and fire pensions next year.
The total amount the city is seeking with its tax levy request is $1,654,039. "About 10% of your local tax dollar goes to the city," says Torreson. The rest goes to other units of local government.
Wisslead says a good deal of the city's revenue comes from fees and the sales tax.
The city council held a public hearing on its tax levy request on December 21. No one from the public spoke. You can listen to the city's presentation by clicking on the audio button.
The levy was unanimously approved by the city council.
The amount the city actually receives will be determined by the county clerk's office.
Voluntary Water Conservation in Macomb
Macomb is asking residents to take voluntary steps to conserve water during the next few weeks.
Public Works Director Walter Burnett says storage capacity will be reduced because one of the city's in-ground storage tanks is being removed from service as part of the water treatment plant improvement project.
"There is no effect on the water quality," says Burnett. "There is no effect on our ability to produce water. But we do have less storage capacity than we normally would have at this time of year."
He water usage typically decreases this time of year because of winter break at Western Illinois University. He says that's one reason why the city chose to take the storage tank off-line right now. He hopes to have it back in service by January 15.
Burnett says turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save up to 25 gallons per month. Water can also be conserved by turning it off while washing hair and by shortening showers by a minute or two. He says each of those methods can save up to 150 gallons per month.
Burnett says a voluntary water conservation request might also be needed during spring break. He says the entire water plant project could be completed by fall.
"Once we're done, we'll be done for a long time," says Burnett. "This is a project that should last us for the next 20 years."
The construction project is expected to improve water quality in Macomb.