QUINCY -- Momentum in the downtown district was the main topic Monday night for several speakers at City Hall.
Quincy City Council members heard comments during an hourlong public hearing. Then during their weekly meeting, aldermen approved a first reading of an ordinance that would establish the District's 90-block special service area for the next 10 years.
Another ordinance that had a first reading would establish the annual property tax rate at about 23 cents per $100 of assessed value for 2018, up from 21 cents this year. Both ordinances need two more readings.?"This decision is about whether you're for or against downtown Quincy," Frankie Murphy Giesing, a volunteer for the District, said during the council meeting.
Bu other business owners said the District does not benefit them.
David Arns, of Aire Serv at 401 N. Fourth, said he gets no benefit from the organization and should not have to pay taxes that he believes will only help properties near the central business district's core area.
John Mast, the District Board's president, said the organization would have to come back to aldermen each year to set the tax rate. A report on the year's accomplishments will be part of that annual appearance.
Mayor Kyle Moore said he sees tremendous momentum in the District. When he was an alderman, Moore had opposed property tax collections by what was then known as the Historic Quincy Business District, but he said he's been won over.
"I see a lot of value in it," he said. "We've seen the fact that ... (the District's) property values grew at a rate faster than the overall city's property values grew."
The City Council also heard a first reading of an ordinance that would raise property taxes used by the city for pension obligations and debt. The tax rate cannot go up more than 7.37 percent, but Moore said it could go down if a lower pension actuarial report is issued. Until a second pension obligation calculation is made, the city must use the funding level it has.
"This is mandatory. The state has tied our hands on this," Moore said.
Aldermen also passed an ordinance that will allow the city to buy down accrued sick days from firefighters and reduce them from up to 90 days to 45 days. The buyback program is allowed by a provision in the new three-year labor contract between the city and firefighters represented by Quincy Firefighters Local 63.
It would also seek to buy down sick days from 60 days to 40 days for nonunion employees and those represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 822.
The buyback program is expected to cost $648,500, but it is seen as a long-term cost saving measure. If the city buys back those unused sick days on an annual basis, it will prevent costs from escalating as hourly pay rates increase. It also will prevent the city from being penalized by retirement funds that have to pay higher pensions if retirees have a huge end-of-career windfall.
• Aldermen voted to buy a V-Maxx spreader to be used on one-ton trucks from Knapheide Truck Equipment. The cost is $6,034.
• Tri-Star Supply of South Elgin was chosen as the supplier for $8,585 in traffic signal parts to be used for maintenance and repair in the city.
• A three-lot subdivision to be known as North 30th Estates Subdivision was approved by aldermen.
• An ordinance will be drafted to allow a convenience store at 1705 Harrison to sell package liquor. A similar business had operated at the site for years.