3 months, 2 weeks ago by Bob Gough
Mayor Moore casts deciding vote
The Quincy City Council passed a 3 percent tax rate increase Monday night with Mayor Kyle Moore casting the deciding vote.
Alderman Mike Rein (R-5th Ward) was out of town and the levy vote needed 8 votes to pass. The first vote was to keep the tax rate flat, but it died when only 7 aldermen supported it and Moore voted against it.
The second vote for the 3 percent increase saw Aldermen Steve Duesterhaus (D-2nd Ward), Dave Bauer (D-2nd Ward), Jared Holbrook (R-3rd Ward), Paul Havermale (R-3rd Ward), Dan Brink (R-6th Ward), Terri Heinecke (R-7th Ward) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7th Ward). Moore cased the deciding yes vote to raise the levy.
Duesterhaus switched his vote at the end of the roll call in order for the levy to pass and Brink voted for the flat levy, then voted for the increased levy. According to statute, the City had to pass a levy by the end of the calendar year. Brink said he preferred to meet the pension obligation without raising taxes.
Aldermen Virgil Goehl (D-1st Ward), Lexze Mann (R-1st Ward), Mike Farha (R-4th Ward), Tony Sassen (R-4th Ward), Jennifer Lepper (R-5th Ward) and Jim Musolino (R-6th Ward) opposed the increase.
Duesterhaus had proposed a 6.81 levy increase that would have fully funded the pension obligations, but his motion died for lack of a second.
Moore had recommended the 3 percent increase to the Council. The levy generated will be $5.827 million on a tax rate of $1.023 per $100 of assessed valuation.The levy is comprised of $1.949 million for firefighter pensions and $1.487 million for police pensions, $1.608 million for bond payments, $732,045 for the Quincy Public Library and $50,000 for the Historic Quincy Business District.
The increase means about $9.23 more to a taxpayer with a $100,000 home.
Even with the increase, the City will sill have to pull about $215,000 from the general fund to meet the pension obligation. The money will come from part of the Ameren franchise fee the company pays to the City.
"The need for an increase is because of the promises we made 20 or 30 years ago," Moore said before the votes were taken. "No one wants to raise taxes or cut government. We've been talking about how we can stop kicking the can down the road. This is not anything anyone signed up for, but we have obligations and we need to meet them."
Moore said the City has left positions open and is down to 305 employees from the 312 it had when he took office. He said the City Council will meet in a special retreat session in January to discuss possible cuts to the 2014-2015 City budget. Moore has told department heads to prepare two budgets, one flat from their current budgets and one with a five percent decrease.
There has been discussion in the community about the potential for closing a fire station as part of those cuts. Mark Bigelow of the Quincy Fire Department addressed the Council again to talk about the need to fund the pension obligation and not make further cuts to the Fire Department.
"Nothing is in danger...we have to meet our obligation," Farha said regarding pensions. "We can't make decisions based on threats."
Moore said no decision had been made at this time regarding any cuts.