O’Fallon City Council members just did residents a solid. They agreed to freeze water and sewer rates for a year, meaning the $560,000 that would have automatically been added to their rates this year will stay in their pockets. Jane and Joe Average will keep about $50 as a result.
O’Fallon, since 2009, automatically added water and sewer rate increases to match the Consumer Price Index, which this year would have been a 3.5 percent hike in each fund. Because the inflation index does not always match reality, the city built up reserves that grew from less than $6 million in 2009 to more than $14 million today.
Automatic increases are sure easy on politicians, who can wash their hands of responsibility for inflation adjustments.
So are permanent tax increases, as opposed to being forced to publicly consider and vote on an additional sales tax every four years. Belleville just put that decision on automatic.
Belleville city leaders approved a permanent version of the 0.25 percent sales tax they imposed when they gave up on the unpopular wheel tax stickers. The sales tax gives the city $1.1 million a year, but city leaders in 2013 agreed that it should expire after four years.
They’ve changed their minds. They weren’t interested in another four-year sunset to the tax. No need to answer to voters or be responsive when economics improve if the tax is “permanent.”
Mayor Mark Eckert said the higher sales tax is needed because the city’s share of state income tax is down $500,000, leaving the city with 20 open positions.
“And that’s just because people are moving out of Illinois,” Eckert said. He noted businesses are also leaving the state.
Any why are they leaving the state?
Which Belleville just kept high. Because people are moving away. Because taxes are high.