Editorials

Belleville property tax hikes can't be changed, or can they?

Belleville employees to get 3 percent raise under proposed budget

Belleville’s proposed budget includes funds to improve West Main Street from Sixth to 12th streets, give employees a 3 percent pay raise and increase payments toward the pension fund for police officers and firefighters.
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Belleville’s proposed budget includes funds to improve West Main Street from Sixth to 12th streets, give employees a 3 percent pay raise and increase payments toward the pension fund for police officers and firefighters.

Belleville's obligations to its union workers call for 3 percent raises. Can't change that.

Belleville's share of state income taxes dropped about $500,000. Can't change that.

Belleville's pensions were not fully funded by past leaders. Can't change that.

So Belleville's share of property taxes on your $100,000 home will be going up $58.25 if the 2018-19 budget is passed. Can't change that?

Mayor Mark Eckert's house at 703 Blair Ave. in Belleville was billed $2,511 in property taxes last year, of which 74 percent — $1,861 — went into TIF 3. Those funds are locked away for economic development and infrastructure as "legal, separate pots of money."

Well, TIF 3 expires in 2021 after 35 years. There's something that can change.

City leaders negotiated a 3 percent raise while the Midwest Consumer Price Index was 1.7 percent for the past year. Offering just 2 percent was something they could have changed when they knew the economy was facing headwinds and that state revenue was unreliable and heading in a negative direction. Based on last year's payroll, that extra 1 percent would have put another $460 into the average city employee's pocket and collectively cost about $216,000.

Keeping down expenses when they took over Belleville Township should have been the goal, but they decided to make a change to make services more convenient.

Last year Belleville budgeted $66,500 for two part-time workers to hand out gift cards to the poor. This year they bumped salaries to $86,570, including $51,420 that is now in the full-time salary column.

There's another pension to fund.

City spending is not a series of unfortunate events. Every expense can be linked to a decision, past or present.

It's disingenuous to play the victim of circumstance.

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