Property tax levy to be discussed at next Decatur City Council meeting
Next year’s property tax levy for the city of Decatur will be discussed by the city council at its meeting on October 17. Council members will be considering four options to the levy from leaving it at $14,949,394 (decreasing the city tax rate by 4.0% for the city’s portion of the overall tax bill from 1.69080 to 1.62247) to increasing it to $17,457,249 (raising the tax rate by 16.8% for the city’s portion of the overall tax bill to 1.89464). Specifically, the four options provided to the council are:
1) The city will levy the same dollar amount as the previous year (i.e., $14,949,394). In this option, the city’s property tax rate would decrease 4.0%. However, $2.5 million would be needed from the general fund to meet requirements. As background, the city’s property taxes are used to pay firefighter pensions, police pensions, library, general obligation bond debt, and municipal band. In recent years, the property tax levy could not meet all of these obligations, and thus, general fund revenues have needed to be spent to meet these obligations. In 2022, the city spent $977,480 to meet these obligations.
2) The city will increase its levy to $15,323,128 (2.5%), an amount that captures the growth in equalized assessed value from annexation, new construction and natural growth (Overall, the equalized assessed value of the city is expected to grow 4% from $884.1 million to $921.4 million). In this scenario, the city’s property tax rate would decrease 1.6% and $2.1 million would be needed from the general fund to pay expenses.
3) The city will increase its tax levy to $15,579,029 (4.2%), the same percentage as equalized assessed value is expected to grow. In this scenario, the city’s property tax rate would remain the same and $1.9 million would be needed from the general fund to pay expenses.
4) The city will increase its tax levy to $17,457,249 (16.8%). In this scenario, the city’s property tax rate would increase 12.1% and $0 would be needed from the general fund to pay expenses.
Please note that the tax levy being discussed by the city council represents approximately 15% of one’s total property tax bill. Other major taxing bodies include the school district, park district, and county which independently set their levy.
Ultimately, the city needs to reduce property taxes (i.e., options 1 or 2) and find additional sources of revenue. For example, a push tax whereby individuals who used video gambling machines would pay a 1 cent tax every time they push a slot machine to gamble was passed by the city council approximately a year ago. However, meaningful revenue estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars has not been collected from the city since the law was passed.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Which option of the property tax levy do you prefer? Is there another option that the city council should consider? Meetings take place 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/.