After a lengthy discussion on the matter at their last meeting, the Effingham City Council again Tuesday discussed the city’s 2015 tax levy. The Council is in the process of setting their levy, and determining how much an increase it will have. City Administrator Jim Arndt presented three options for the Council to consider at their last meeting. Those increases are of 4.9%, 8.7%, and 10.57%.
A correction to the additional cost tax payers would face that was presented at the Council’s last meeting was made Tuesday. Based on a home valued at $150,000 tax increases would lead to an additional cost over the year to the home owner of $21.37 at 4.9%, $48 at 8.7%, and $60.7 at 10.5%. The amount of revenue generated would vary depending on the increase. At 4.9% that amount would be $200,000; at 8.7% that amount would be $353,600; and at 10.57% would be $426,00. An increase of 8.7% to the tax levy would allow for the corporate fund to be fully funded, while the 10.57% increase would also allow for the hiring of four additional police officers.
During the tax levy discussion, Effingham City Police Sergeant Matt Sager gave a presentation to the Council about the benefit of adding to the police force. The City Police Department currently is a 22 officer department, with 16 officers responsible for patrol. Sager said that at any time there are either three or four officers on patrol. Sergeant Sager explained that police operations in the Effingham community are unique because of the location along two interstates and the number of large events held. He said further that Effingham has seen an increase of 12.48% in calls for service since 2010. Sager also stated that an increase in police staff would create a level of officers that ensures safety to the citizens, reduces overtime, and allows non-enforcement time for officers to positively interact in the community.
A vote is still not on the table for the tax levy. A desire was expressed to schedule a Truth in Taxation Hearing prior to a future meeting. If an increase of 5% or more is to be voted on, a public hearing must be held, but the Council expressed wanting to receive public input no matter the proposed increase.
In other action, the Council approved a $25,000 grant for the Keller Convention Center. The grant money comes from the City’s Tourism Fund. The money will allow the Convention Center to make staging and banquet table purchases.
The Council also heard a request to authorize an expansion project to the Animal Control Facility. The expansion would extend the front of the building by 14 feet, adding approximately 500 square feet. The expansion would increase room for adoptions, and ultimately reaching a goal of the rate of animals that have to be put down reduced to 10%. This request was only up for discussion.