Wood said the council needs to have public hearings on the issue, although it chose not to, and he suggested a workshop — following the holidays — to address the issue through a public forum.
The total levy approved by the council is $2,536,921 which represents a 4.96 percent increase. The lion’s share of the levies are for firefighter’s pension, police pension and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and FICA. The council did not raise its General Corporate levy, but the city is faced with $16.5 million in unfunded mandates.
Information Wood received from Finance Director Merle Hollmann indicates cities of similar size are facing similar financial problems through no fault of the municipalities. Wood reported Carbondale has funded its mandates for a 28-year period and increased its levy by 10.57 percent; Marion has amortized its unfunded mandates of $9.4 million for 27 years with a 6.1 percent levy increase; and Mt. Vernon has averaged a 4.41 percent levy increase over the last four years.
“I don’t mean to be overly critical, but I’ve been on the council for six years , and although we have discussed this in workshops, we haven’t really gotten into the weeds.,” Wood said. “Unfortunately, we may have been delusional when we thought the state was going to fix our problem when they addressed their pension plans. Hopefully, this will help us and let the citizens and more importantly, the politicians in Springfield know what devastation they are laying at the feet of all of these communities in the state.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
n The council approved a bid of $61,700 from Kenneth Hails Excavating for the demolition of eight residential properties, which will deplete the city’s demolition funding for this year, Neibert said.
n Approved a resolution granting a conditional sign permit for property at 1550 Main St. for St. Mary Catholic Church.
n And approved an agreement for the construction of a road between Star Investment Group, LP, the city and Good Samaritan Regional Health Center to realign and reconstruct a portion of 34th Street intersecting Veteran’s Memorial Drive.