Metro-East News

Swansea panel OKs increase in property tax levy

Should Swansea increase property tax levy?

Trustee Matt Lanter talks about the proposed property tax levy in Swansea.
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Trustee Matt Lanter talks about the proposed property tax levy in Swansea.

The Village Board’s Finance Committee on Monday night approved a plan that could increase property taxes an estimated $26 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

If approved by the full board on Dec. 7, the additional property tax revenue would be used in part for pensions for police officers and the Fire Department leaders, savings for a new fire truck and a school resource officer.

The committee OK’d what’s officially called the property tax levy, or the amount of money village leaders want from property taxes to help fund village expenses. The current property tax levy is $1.3 million and the proposal seeks a levy of $1.66 million for a 27.5 percent increase.

Here are highlights of the plan:

▪  About $857,000 would be used to fund the village’s police officer and firefighter pension funds.

▪  $200,000 would fund a school resource officer and update the Police Department’s vehicle fleet and equipment.

▪  $125,000 would be set aside for the eventual purchase of a new fire truck.

During the public hearing for the proposed levy increase, no one spoke against it but one resident, Jim Fields, who is the St. Clair County engineer, questioned whether the $26 increase is accurate.

“It’s going to go up a lot more than that,” Fields said.

Trustee Matt Lanter, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, gave a report about why village leaders have proposed the property tax levy increase.

One of the goals of the plan is to begin setting aside money to buy a new fire truck because one of the village’s pumpers is a 1985 model.

Everybody knows that 30-year-old piece of equipment is not the most reliable thing.

Trustee Matt Lanter about Swansea’s 1985 pumper

“Everybody knows that 30-year-old piece of equipment is not the most reliable thing,” Lanter said. “It might blow out tomorrow, who knows.”

Police Chief Steve Johnson told the Village Board that if the tax levy is approved, a current officer with several years of experience would be assigned to serve as the school resource officer for three area schools while the additional funding would be used to hire a new officer to serve on regular patrol.

Johnson said the school officer is not the “disciplinarian” for the school.

“It’s more of role model for the children that are in there,” Johnson said. The officer “creates a nexus” between the schoolchildren, their families and law enforcement, Johnson said.

In other business

The board voted 4-2 to pay former Village Administrator Lisa Powers through this Saturday although her last day of work was this past Friday. Mayor Ken Mueller said Powers resigned to take the village administrator’s post in Bradley, which is near Kankakee.

“She worked a lot of hours,” Mueller said of Powers’ tenure.

Trustees Katherine Ruocco and Brian Wells voted against the measure while Trustees Matt Lanter, Brian McGuire, Marilyn Neumeyer, and Stephen Pulley voted for it.