70 people were on hand as the Carmi City Council approved a tax levy increase of 15%.
“My vote would be for the 15% so they (the people) don’t have it all at one time," stated council member Sheila Headlee. The visitors agreed that would be doable with some thanking the board for listening to their concerns. With a unanimous vote, an ordinance abating the 2019 tax levy and assessment of property tax by the City of Carmi for the fiscal year commencing the first day of January 2019 and ending on the thirty-first day of December 2019 for the 15 percent increase was passed. City CPA Keith Botsch went over that the average household would see a raise of $52.
Earlier that night, the courthouse was filled with eager residents ready to voice their opinions about the increased tax levy the city would be issuing.
Most of those in attendance were concerned with the 25% tax levy increase that appeared in a notice without any explanation. Botsch explained that the 25% raise would be the highest the city can go for an increase to cover the new state mandated increase in police and library pensions, which makes the city levy $432,545. Police Chief Jason Carter added that, “in 2011 the State Legislators passed that all pension in the state of Illinois be 90% funded by 2040. This is not something that is only happening in Carmi, this is happening in every municipality across the state. Last week the state legislators voted, waiting on the Governor’s signature, they are taking all the pensions in the state and lumping them into one, downstate police pension and downstate fire pension so it’s going into one. Their thinking is that there’s going to be more interest coming out creating some relief for the municipalities that are suffering.”
Bill Chapman, a Carmi resident, asked the board and Keith Botsch if there was any other way to get the money besides raising taxes. “You purchased two new vehicles for $160,000, that’s what the public sees. When you say that you are going to tax somebody and then you turn around and you buy something and give everybody Christmas bonuses, that’s when things start to get a little dicey. Not only are we looking at being taxed for this, potentially we are going to be looking at being taxed for a new school on top of this also.”
More than a dozen participated in articulating their concerns including: Rick York, Nancy Carter, Spud Egbert, John Pat Dartt, Shannon Henson and others. “When I first bought my home my taxes were right at $700 and now they are over $2500, we are going to price myself out of my house. I have to put up $230 a month for just my taxes," resident Dee Stone shared. With that in mind, Keith Botsch commented that he would assume the Council would want to drop tax rates but the citizens in the courthouse did not believe that would happen.
When the public meeting concluded some of the visitors went to the City Council meeting where they heard Alderman Doug Hayes told the board at the City Council meeting that the jail would come in around $130,000 under budget and that would possibly help for now but not forever.
The Council approved the pay request to White Technologies Inc. in the amount of $74,500 for the sludge bed grant.
Closing the meeting, David Coston talked about Generator 11 and shared his recommendations with the board, “There is a brand new generator, we can use the insurance money to get it. Vote not to fix existing generator and let me do more investigating into a new one.” The board voted, without hesitation, to not fix Generator 11.
City Council ended their long night and will meet again on December 3.