City Council narrowly votes against cutting library subsidy, then approves $61.3 million budget

Kelly Mays city budget

Kelly Mays (R-3), right, makes a point during Monday's Quincy City Council meeting. At left is Kenny Hultz (R-3). | Photo courtesy of City of Quincy Facebook livestream

QUINCY — After defeating an amendment that would have trimmed the city’s subsidy to the Quincy Public Library, the Quincy City Council voted Monday night to adopt a $61.3 million budget that goes into effect May 1.

Before aldermen voted on the budget ordinance, they discussed a proposed amendment from Jeff Bergman (R-2) calling to reduce the library’s subsidy. His amendment called for the library to maintain a 0.15 percent cap — the property tax levy of 0.0907 combined with the city subsidy of 0.05933.

The property tax figure of $732,052, the city subsidy of $479,048 and the 10.969 percent of Personal Property Replacement Tax ($832,108) would have given the library $2,043,208 — a 3.2% increase over the previous year’s budget. 

The requested budget from the library was $2,352,425. Bergman’s amendment would have reduced the library budget by $309,217. He proposed for those extra dollars to be reallocated to each of the city’s seven wards at approximately $44,000 apiece.

Kelly Mays (R-3) said she believed the City Council should support the library.

“We have a $61 million budget, and we’re not willing to give the library $300,000?” she said. “It just seems kind of crazy. We’re going to give it to our ward, which I appreciate that, but I think the library is so useful for people. The library has the ability to change lives and help people. Instead, we’re going to just use it to fix our streets. It just doesn’t seem comparable.”

Comptroller Sheri Ray said she believes the first step for the city and library is to draft an intergovernmental agreement that establishes clarity in what the funding process should be.

“We always give the library 100 percent of whatever personal property tax that’s levied by them for them,” Ray said. “If the PPRT were to fall short, the city would still feel like they were on the hook for the full subsidy. If PPRT comes in excess, and the library makes a request of ‘x,’ the Finance Committee has agreed to give them ‘x’ — which therefore saves the city subsidy.”

Mays said the City Council did exactly that two years ago.

“There isn’t strong communication between the library and the city, and it’s not what’s best for the library or the city,” she said. “We do need to have this levy discussion and let them know how much money they’re getting so that they know how they can budget for the money they’re getting. Right now, how it’s currently done, it’s just changing all the time.”

Bergman’s library amendment lost by a 7-6 vote. Mays, Mike Rein (R-5), Glen Ebbing (R-5), Richie Reis (D-6), Jake Reed (R-6), Ben Uzelac (D-7) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7) voted against it. Dave Bauer (D-2) was absent.

Aldermen then voted unanimously to approve several amendments to the budget. They were:  

  • General Fund: Reducing subsidy transfers to Central Garage and Landfill Superfund by $129,365 to increase fire chief salaries $9,365 and to increase engineering landfill rentals by $120,000.
  • Airport: Adding new revenue for solar renewable energy credits of $70,828, while adding $70,828 for repair, maintenance, fleet maintenance and signage.
  • Regional Training Facility: Increasing available fund balance for tuition receipts of $68,000 while adding $56,125 for instructional services and other contracted services. 
  • Central Garage: Increasing available fund balance by $65,551 for hoist repairs by adding additional rollover of the same amount from the current year; adding $93,375 for the estimated revenue for billing new mechanic labor; adding $62,403 for salary/benefits for a new garage mechanic.

The amended budget was approved 9-4. Voting against the budget were Greg Fletcher (R-1), Bergman, Mike Farha (R-4) and Rein.

Kathleen Helsabeck, executive director of the library, was pleased to see the original budget approved.

“We are excited to work with the city as well … moving forward to establish more stable funding for the library so we can plan for the future so we can maintain the building that we have,” she said after the meeting. “We’re going to be proactive and get on that.”

Aldermen also authorized the city to enter into a $1 million redevelopment and sales tax rebate agreement with the Charles and Kathie Marx Trust about the redevelopment of a vacant retail anchor at 3400 Quincy Mall (the former Sears building) for a retail business.

The agreement calls for the city to pay Marx $200,000 when the new retailer occupies the building. When the retailer achieves more than $4 million in annual sales and the city collects $400,000 in sales tax, the city will share half of the sales tax revenue with Marx until both sides collect $1 million.

Tory Kaufmann, property manager for Marx Commercial Properties and Development Company, confirmed Monday night Marx is in talks with a retailer but would not reveal what it was.

In other action, aldermen: 

  • Approved a revocable permit for encroachment of city right-of-way from Anne Forbes on behalf of the Friends of the Lorenzo Bull House requesting permission to place signs on city right-of-way from April 23 and May 3 promoting the Dogwood Parade Festival at Lorenzo Bull Park. 
  • Allowed St. Peter Church and QHS 79 Girls/Wise Minds Therapy, PLLC, to conduct raffles.
  • Approved amending and extending an agreement for the disposal of solid waste with BFI Waste Systems of Missouri, LLC (Republic Services). 
  • Approved buying law enforcement policy management services from Lexipol LLC of Irvine, Calif., for $15,128.40. 
  • Amended city code to reduce the length of the review period for the demolition of a building from up to 90 days to the amount of time required to hold two regularly scheduled Preservation Commission meetings (which typically would be about 55 to 65 days).

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