BELLEVILLE — The City Council voted Monday night to request a minimally higher amount in property taxes than the previous year.
The increase means that a property owner with a $100,000 home could pay about 67 cents more next year in annual property taxes on the citys portion of the bill.
Aldermen voted unanimously in favor of a tax levy of $7,759,093, from the past levy of $7,749,971, which is an increase of 0.1177 percent or $9,122.
The levy increase is expected to change the citys tax rate from $1.7835 to $1.7855 per $100 assessed valuation.
Mayor Mark Eckert said residents taxes could even go down depending on the equalized assessed valuation.
The city did not have a public hearing because, under Illinois law, no hearing is required if the increase is less than 5 percent.
Finance Director Jamie Maitret said last week the police pension fund contribution went down and the fire employee pension contribution went up, so the two line items almost negated each other.
The fire pension fund went up, in part, because of the Fire Department had several retirements this past year but mostly because of the low return on the funds investments.
City Treasurer Jerry Turner said the investments turned out to be significantly less and the Fire Pension Board will change investment advisers. Turner is the president of the Fire Pension Board and a member of the Police Pension Board.
Also on Monday:
Aldermen voted 16-0 to pay Knapheide Truck Equipment $154,914 for a vehicle that could lift 10,000-pound pumps for the Sewer Department and to pay Rite-Way Excavating $28,395 for a manhole replacement at Sherman and East D streets.
Aldermen voted 16-0 to charge a $100 license fee per video gambling terminal per year. Each liquor license establishment can have up to five machines.
Eckert said a quick review of fees in other cities in southern Illinios showed a range of $25 to $500. Home-rule cities are allowed to ask for more than the minimum $25 fee required by the state.
Ward 7 Alderwoman Lillian Schneider said the city should charge a total of $100, regardless of the number of machines. Thats $500 theyve got to come up with, she said.
Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden said the city should charge more because the businesses are profiting from the machines, unlike amusement-only machines, which have an annual fee of $50. Still, a steeper fee would in effect legislate out what voters wanted, Hayden said.
Eckert said the city could always assess the fee next year and adjust it.
Belleville voters passed a video gambling referendum in November. It could be months, however, before the Illinois Gaming Board approves applications from local businesses and the machines appear in bars, restaurants and fraternal halls.
Aldermen voted 16-0 to pay Kaskaskia Engineering Group $217,400 for engineering plans and specifications to improve McClintock Avenue between Missouri and Mascoutah avenues. Geri Boyer, of Kaskaskia, said she hopes the Illinois Department of Transportation will approve the plans in time for a June bid letting.
Aldermen voted 16-0 to advertise for an architect to review the buildings that house City Hall and the Police Department for possible renovations or new structures.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult said she was surprised to hear that City Hall is now part of the review.
Eckert said the buildings are intertwined, sharing parking and heating and cooling systems, so it makes sense to have them evaluated together.
Aldermen voted 16-0 to turn the intersection of South Second and West Washington streets into a three-way stop. Eckert said its one of the citys most dangerous intersections and Hayden said there have been 20 crashes there in the last year.
The latter half of the City Council meeting was an impromptu questionand-answer session, with various aldermen asking for updates from Eckert on issues such as work on the citys new website and cable infrastructure, potential deals for a new city swimming pool, establishment of a city court, a new fire truck, lawsuit in the aftermath of a downtown fire, a new dog park, the upcoming annual budget review, whether parts of the sidewalk on East Washington comply with federal disability regulations, maintenance of the Meredith Home and old YMCA, sales tax revenue and the timeline for introducing video gambling in the city.
City Clerk Linda Fields said the city has erected a bulletin board at the entrance of City Hall so residents could view posted agendas and other announcements even after business hours.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655.