Property tax increase and a new childcare facility highlight last council meeting of 2023
The last Decatur City Council meeting of 2023 will likely feature a 3% increase in the amount of property tax collected, approving an engineering services agreement for a new sewer expected to cost $25 million, and using $930,000 in grant funding to rehabilitate a childcare center to be located in the city’s urban core. The meeting will also feature an agreement permitting two new electronic billboards on city streets and approval for a new city website. Collectively, the meeting features 35 agenda items and a closed executive session.
3% PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
It is expected that the Decatur City Council will approve a 3% increase in the total amount of property tax the city collects. The 3% property tax increase represents the increase in the city’s Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) that is a result of new construction, building additions, and annexations from the previous year. The city’s property tax rate is projected to go down 7% from $1.619 to $1.505 per $100 of assessed value.
Reducing the property tax rate is critical to housing stability in the city. According to the real estate company ATTOM, in the second quarter of 2023, Macon County, IL is the second most vulnerable county in the United States to a housing downturn, and Macon County has the highest percentage of home loans underwater in the country with 17.6% of home loans underwater. Furthermore, the likelihood of a Macon County property with a foreclosure filing is 12.9 times greater than the national average. Thus, it is critical that the city council do what it can to reduce the financial burden of homeownership.
While it is very important that the city reduce the property tax rate, the city’s general fund continues to be used to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual expenses that would normally be paid for by property taxes. This is one reason the city council will likely be discussing new taxes and fees in 2024.
GRANT DOLLARS TO BE USED TO FOR NEW CHILDCARE FACILITY
The city council is likely to approve using up to $930,000 of grant funding to rehabilitate the former Wee Folks building on North Jasper Street. After rehabilitation, it is expected that the facility will have 250 childcare openings per shift and will ultimately be able to run three shifts. A new childcare facility will be instrumental in eliminating one of the largest barriers to re-entering the workforce – availability of childcare. Labor force participation in Decatur is significantly lower than both state and national averages. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2018-2022, the total % of population 16 years and older in the labor force was 56.7% in Decatur compared to 65% in Illinois. The female % of population 16 years and older in the labor force was 52.7% in Decatur compared to 60.4% in Illinois.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL MEETING
The next city council meeting will take place on December 18 at 5:30 PM in the council chambers located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss city issues with a council member, phone numbers and email addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.