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Council rejects levy with higher tax rates

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Two weeks after a number of residents voiced their opposition to the city’s plan to increase three of its tax rates to the maximum levels, the Vandalia City Council rejected a tax levy that included those higher rates.
The council voted 4-4 on the approval of the new tax levy, with aldermen Bret Brosman, Larry Bennett, Larry Cable and Andy Lester voting for the new levy and aldermen Jerry Swarm, Dean Black, Mike Hobler and Lisa McNutt casting dissenting votes.
Mayor Rick Gottman broke the tie by voting not to approve the levy.
Swarm was the only alderman to explain his vote.
“I just think there ought to be a way that we could do it that would be more equitable for everybody, instead of putting the burden on the people who own property,” he said.
Swarm said he would rather see the city, if it could, approve a sales tax instead of raising property taxes.
Now, the council will meet in special session at 7:30 p.m. next Monday to vote “a levy of some sort,” Gottman said.
The city is required by law to approve a new tax levy by the end of the year. If it fails to do so, Gottman said, it would not be able to accept property tax monies from the county.
The city was planning to include in the new levy increases in its corporate, police protection and fire protection rates as a way of addressing a budget shortfall currently estimated at $250,000.
That was one of the suggestions offered to the city council by the city’s auditor, Timmermann and Co. Ltd. Dale Timmermann told city officials that they were not levying at the maximum rates for those funds.
At the Nov. 25 Truth in Taxation hearing on the proposed rate increases, Timmermann estimated that the new rates would result in an increase of $62.86 for a home valued at $100,000, $101.20 for a $150,000 house and $139.54 for a $200,000 house.
He said that the total tax levy would be 20.94 percent higher than the previous tax extension, but that the overall tax increase for city residents would be 2.38 percent, due to the fact that the city is only one of several tax entities receiving monies from residents.
The proposed levy had the city receiving $134,908 in corporate taxes and $541,245 from special tax levies, including ones for a city audit, Social Security, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, police protection, police pension fund, insurance, fire protection and Medicare tax.