Metro-East News

St. Clair County Board adopts property tax levy

St. Clair County Board members on Monday approved a $61.8 million property tax levy for next year’s tax bills.

The adopted levy is expected to have a portion abated in the future, said Interim Director of Administration Debra Moore.

“It’s been the practice of St. Clair County, in order to provide a benefit to the residents and homeowners to abate a portion of the levy,” Moore said.

How much the abatement will be has yet to be determined, Moore added. The abatement on last year’s levy was about $4.5 million.

The county usually adopts the higher levy, because it can be lowered through an abatement but not increased later in the process. Moore said the county’s rate has been half the legal limit.

The higher levy also protects the legal limit, Moore said.

How the proposed levy will effect property taxpayers’ bills won’t be finalized until the spring when property values are set.

In other action

▪  Loan application: Board members approved an application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to have a Section 108 Loan program to provide gap financing loan pool for large development projects. The county is looking to start a $15 million loan pool. The amount would be equal to a little less than five times its annual community block grant allocation from the federal government.

▪  Road salt purchase: The county plans to purchase more than 9,300 tons of salt for its winter operations for $62.36 a ton. Salt that is purchased also is slated to go to local road districts and municipalities.

Last year the county paid more than $100 a ton as local suppliers were short on salt, said Highway Department Director Jim Fields.

▪  Swansea inspections: County officials approved an agreement with Swansea where the county would handle occupancy inspections for residential structures in the village. The county would be paid $50 for a multi-family unit inspection, $75 for an inspection of a manufactured/mobile home, and $100 for a single-family residence inspection. There would be a $50 re-inspection fee when an inspection fails.

Fees would be paid by property owners, said Lisa Powers, Swansea village administrator.

Powers said the village has been considering some sort of residential inspection program for years, but does not have the manpower to handle occupancy inspections itself.

The occupancy inspections, to ensure buildings are up to code, would be good for one year, and would have to take place before a person or family moves into a new residential unit.

Powers said the village is preparing to send a notice to landlords, property managers and realtors about the change. Inspections would be of structures that are at least five years old, Powers said.

There are 1,200 rental units within the village, Powers said, who added there was no firm data on often they turn over.

“It’s a safety mechanism for people moving in here to make sure they have a safe healthy living environment,” Powers said.

In September, Swansea adopted the county’s property maintenance code.

They said it

During the meeting, county board members held a moment of silence in honor of Willie “Big Mac” McIntosh, a former board member who died last month.

Joan McIntosh, Willie’s widow, is a current St. Clair County Board member.

“He was a great friend to St. Clair County,” said Chairman Mark Kern.

Honored with proclamations

At Monday’s meeting, proclamations were each awarded to Barb Cempura and members of the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers.

The Marching Panthers recently won the regional contest at the Bands of America Regional competition in Clarksville, Tenn.

Cempura, who founded the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois, recently retired from her role as president of the organization.

“In 35 years we have changed the lives of thousands of children through the friendships they have had,” Cempura said.