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County OKs levy with slight hike

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Split vote as four board members oppose increase

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

While the new budget for Fayette County was approved without discussion on Tuesday night, the same was not true for the county’s new levy.
That new levy, which has a total that is 2.93 percent above last year’s total tax extension, was opposed by four members – Wade Wilhour, Chad Austin, Keith Cole and Glen “Whitey” Daniels.
While those four members voted against the levy passage, voting for it were Chairman Jeff Beckman, Vice Chairman Darrell Schaal, Dean Bernhardt, Glenn Gurtner, Jenny Waggoner, John Daniels Jr. and Bryce Kistler.
Prior to the vote, Wilhour asked other board members, “Do you feel you’re not paying enough taxes?
“I don’t think I could take this out to anyone in my district and sell a tax increase,” Wilhour said.
He contended that the state is failing to handle its issues, and sees this county as being the same.
“I don’t see Illinois doing anything revolutionary, and we’re playing in the same court,” Wilhour said.
In response, Waggoner said compared Fayette County’s taxing levels to other counties. In Effingham County, the total tax amount for her property would be four times what she is paying in this county.
Also, Waggoner said, she is willing to pay the taxed amount because she wants to drive on good roads and have her children going to school in Ramsey instead of a consolidated school for all of the county.
Beckman said to Wilhour, “I totally get what you’re saying.
“I look at it as doing a cost-of-living increase.”
He said that the county is seeking more tax money than in the past, “but we’ve not maximized (asked for maximum amounts allowed by law) anything here.
“The bottom line is that it costs X amount to do so much, and we need it,” Beckman said.
“I hope the citizens understand that we’re doing the best we can with what we have to work with,” he said.
The board approved a budget that was the same as presented as a draft last month.
That budget has a small surplus in the general fund, made possible by a decision to gradually pay back money loaned from the capital improvements fund to the general fund in recent years.
To try to repay the full amount borrowed in recent years, according to a resolution amendment approved on Tuesday, “would result in an immediate financial shortfall in the 2018 fiscal year.”