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Thomas Clatterbuck

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Residents in Jacksonville may see an increase in their property tax bills next year. Last night, the Jacksonville City Council voted 8-2 to raise the city’s levy by 3.5 percent. This was the first reading for the increase, and it will be voted on again at the remaining meetings this year.

Unsurprisingly, growing pension costs were cited as the main driver of the increase. Pensions were up $364,000 this year. 2.4 percent of the 3.5 percent increase was necessary just to cover the police and fire pensions.  New actuarial data has driven up the projected costs of the pensions; and this trend is expected to continue for the next several years.

The council also pointed to the compounding effect of levy increases as a reason for the increase. Jacksonville, like other home rule units, has a five percent cap on the annual increases for their levy. Every year the levy is less than the cap, the next year’s levy will be smaller that it could be. “We’ll never get that money back,” was a common refrain among the supporters for a higher levy.

Not everyone agreed with this logic. Alders Steve Warmowski and Mike Wankel voted against the increase. Warmowski said later that any money the city “loses” stays in the hands of residents.

Just one slice of the property tax pie

But the council stressed that this was not a 3.5 percent increase to property tax bills. Many different taxing bodies contribute to the property tax bill. In Jacksonville, the school district accounts for almost two thirds of the bill. The city is only 22 percent. The remaining portion is spread among many other bodies, including the county, airport, and community college.

Property taxes are also a set dollar amount in total, not per unit. Once the levy is set, every property pays its proportional share of the bill. That means growth in the community can mean a lower property tax bill for everyone, even if the total levy has gone up. Jacksonville grew by .4 percent last year, so even the 3.5 percent increase for the city’s portion will be slightly lower than 3.5 percent.

Residents who want to weigh in on the proposed levy increase can attend the remaining meetings this year, which occur on the second and fourth Monday’s of the month.

Archeological Surveys

The council was also briefed on a potential archeological survey needed for a water improvement project. Much of the city’s water comes in on an aging pipeline. To increase the lifespan of this vital piece of infrastructure, the water department wants to install a surge suppression unit, that will keep the pressure more even in the pipeline. However, the only place the unit can be installed is in an active archeological area.

To protect the area, a survey will be necessary. Archeologists from the University of Illinois will be brought in to sweep the area. Their project will be expensive, and may cost over $59,000. To further complicate issues, if a major discovery, such as a burial site, happens on the last day of the survey, not only will the city have spent all of the initial money, the whole project would be delayed. While this is unlikely given the current assessment of the area, it did make the council more cautious about the survey.

But the cost of not adding the surge suppression unit was seen as a worse option. Replacing or overhauling the decades-old 30 inch pipeline will be a serious undertaking. Paying a small amount now to extend its lifespan was seen as the best option.

You can watch the workshop session and the chamber session in the players above and below.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole April 9th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole meeting. The council will be discussing proposals to allow businesses to access the local fiber optic network. Fiber optic connections can dramatically increase network speeds over other technologies.

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City branch pickup starts tomorrow in the Northwest Quadrant

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Springfield’s spring branch pickup program starts Monday, April 8th. Each quadrant of the city will have two pickup dates, one in April and one in May. Crews will only visit each quadrant once per month. The first pickup will be in the Northwest Quadrant.

Size of Branch Piles

Branches must meet the following standards to be picked up:

  • No larger than 3 foot in height, 4 foot in depth, and 10 feet in length;
  • Piles larger than a small pickup load will not be picked up by the city;
  • The program is for branches only, no logs will be accepted
  • Branches/limbs trimmed by a commercial contractor will not be picked up; and
  • Branches must be placed on the curb not obstructing the street or sidewalk.

Small branches may also be broken up and put into yard waste bags for pick up by your waste hauler.

Year-Round Residential Branch Drop Off

Residents may drop off branches, free of charge year-round, to Evans Recycling with proof of residency. This service is not for commercial contractors but for city residents only. Evans Recycling is located at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway and is open Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 12-noon. Contact number is 217.391.0886.

Pickup schedule

Week of April 8th & May 6th

  • Northwest Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street/J David Jones Parkway.

Week of April 15th & May 13

  • Southwest Quadrant – area south of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street.

Week of April 22nd & May 20th

  • Southeast Quadrant– area south of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut Street, including the properties around Lake Springfield.

Week of April 29th & May 27th

  • Northeast Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut/J. David Jones Parkway.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting April 3rd

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for April 3rd, 2019. This meeting was moved for the April 2nd, election. There will be a presentation by Public Works on yard waste pickup service in the city. They also discussed providing funding for the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation.

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