‘The taxpayers deserve this break’: Aldermen to vote next week on lowest property tax rate in 20 years

Property tax rates

| Chart courtesy of Comptroller Sheri Ray

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council will vote next week on a $7.112 million annual property tax levy ordinance that would create a tax rate around 96 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“Property taxes paid next year are going to basically be less than they were this year by about seven percent, maybe eight percent,” said Jeff Mays, director of administrative services for the city. “This mayor has been very interested in following through on his promise to control property taxes and reduce them if he could. The stars were aligned this year. I don’t know that they will be next year. These things may need to gravitate up like they have every other time.

“But for right now, the taxpayers deserve this break.”

The 11.1 percent rate decrease would create an estimated tax rate of .95817. The largest rate decreases since 1979 came in 2002, when it dropped 13.6 percent, and in 1985, when it dropped 12.4 percent.

The city doesn’t set property tax rates. Instead, the city establishes a levy dollar request. The county calculates the final rate based on the request and EAV (equalized assessed valuation).

Comptroller Sheri Ray said approximately $4.58 million of the property tax levy goes toward paying the city’s fire and police pensions. However, the city is finding other sources — PPRT (personal property replacement tax) money, video gaming money and Green Energy money — to help pay for the pensions.

“Ten years ago, we were paying for pensions with 80 percent of the property tax,” Ray said. “Now you see that the council has managed to keep that property tax (levy) pretty level. It’s not grown a lot. That just means we’ve used other city resources to fund this growing pension cost.”

Alderman Jeff Bergman, R-2, said he “fully supports” the idea of lowering the property tax. 

“But in the eight years that I’ve been sitting here on the council, we’ve gone from an expense for police and fire pensions of approximately $5 million up to $9.5 million,” he said. “That is not going to slow down. That’s not going to reverse. That’s not going to go backwards. What can and could go worse are some of these revenue subsidies such as PPRT and video gaming.

“Two or three years down the road, we might not be sitting in a situation where we have the ability financially to do this without having to look into either an (tax) increase or some reduction in the size of government. I’m not going to be voting for an increase for property taxes so I don’t have to pay for a reduction in the size of city government. That’s just a little cautionary tale to go forward.”

Aldermen approved a resolution to allocate $178,300 for Small Rental Rehab Program projects at 1224 Broadway, 513-515 Washington, 1732 State, and 1139 No. 2 and No. 3 Hutmacher Road. Three units will be new, and 11 will be renovations. Property owners are spending $486,088 for the projects.

“It’s a good thing to have,” said Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development. “It’s a good program, and obviously people are interested in it.”

Bevelheimer expects another round of funding after the city sees where its funding lies and how other projects are proceeding.

Aldermen approved an application for a $10,000 DollarWise Grant through the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help the Safe and Livable Housing Committee pay for three tenant workshops it plans to hold in 2023. 

Committee representative Janet Conover told aldermen the group expected 20 tenants at workshops held this fall. However, 47 eventually took the course and 22 completed the course, receiving $100 VISA gift cards.

“According to the U.S. Census, there are 6,300 rental housing properties in Quincy,” Conover said. “A large number of tenants would benefit from this workshop. We have barely touched the surface.”

Aldermen also: 

  • Approved a bid from Summy Tire for $8,405.24 to enter into a two-year contract to buy automotive, truck and off-road tires. 
  • Approved a resolution for improvements under the Illinois Highway Code for $1.866 million in motor and fuel tax funds to maintain streets and highways from May 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024.
  • Reminded citizens that the last day for curbside yard waste pickup is Friday, Dec. 16.

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