$5.655 million proposed Quincy tax levy slightly lower than last two years

Posted: Dec. 2, 2012 12:10 am Updated: Dec. 16, 2012 1:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The city of Quincy's tax levy for property taxes paid in 2013 will be introduced Monday night, and the $5.655 million proposed levy is $39,000 less than what taxpayers paid in the last two years.

The proposed levy is also less than the $5.703 million levied in 2009.

The city is projecting a 0.2 percent increase in the equalized assessed valuation of property in the city, which is expected to lower the tax rate for property owners to 99.927 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For property taxes paid this year, property owners saw a tax rate of $1.0027 per $100 of assessed valuation.

More than half of the overall tax levy would go toward paying police and firefighter pensions. Under the proposal, $1.896 million would go toward firefighter pensions and $1.397 millions toward police pensions.

Pension payments have dipped slightly since they capped out at $3.671 million in the 2010 tax levy. Last year, aldermen approved a levy with $3.344 million for the pension funds.

In December 2010, Illinois lawmakers approved public safety pension reform legislation that requires cities to ensure that 90 percent of pension obligations are covered by 2041. Previously, cities were required to meet 100 percent of the obligations by 2033.

Comptroller Ann Scott said communities receive an actuarial report from the state on how much should be set aside for police and fire pensions every year. The city also has an actuarial firm calculate numbers that should go into the pension funds.

"The nice thing about this year is that we haven't seen a whole lot of change, which is encouraging, because we've been getting between the two of them $500,000 (increases) a year," she said.

Salary deductions for employee pension contributions are 9.91 percent for police officers and 9.45 percent for firefighters.

Public safety pension payments have increased exponentially since 1999, when the city levied $700,000 for the two pension funds.

Quincy Mayor John Spring said the main reason for the increase is action taken by the Illinois General Assembly. The economic recession also hit pension funds.

"(Retirement age) used to be 55 -- I know that's part of the new standard -- but they reduced retirement to age 50," he said. "We took a big, big hit when that happened. This is why they're wrestling with this whole pension issue right now."

The tax ordinance also includes $50,000 levies through the Historic Quincy Business District special service area, which applies to 382 properties in an area bounded by Third Street, 12th Street, Broadway and York.

It would also be the fourth consecutive year that the city will not levy any money for general operations. Money for general operations comes from other sources, such as sales taxes.

The last time the city levied for general operations, it levied $108,000. In 1999, the city approved a levy requesting $2.184 million for general operations.

The proposed tax levy for the Quincy Public Library is $732,045, a decrease of $61,759 from last year. The city also is looking for $1.508 million for bond payments.