Edwardsville adopts 2011 budget with 2 mill increase
At Monday night's Edwardsville City Council meeting, council members approved a 2011 budget that raises property taxes by 2 mills.
The council approved, 5-0, a 2011 budget that calls for $5,474,418 in expenditures and includes the 2-mill increase in the property tax levy to a total of 44.441 mills. Of the increase, 1 mill will go to the city’s general fund and 1 mill is targeted for the debt service fund.
A mill equals $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Council members agreed to the mill increase because the average single-family home valuation went down 4.65 percent. City Administrator Michael Webb said even with a 2-mill increase, the valuation drop would keep homeowners’ city tax bill flat. This does not include any mill increases approved by the county.
Although council members will now continue discussions at further meetings about how exactly that $5,474,418 should be spent, those discussions won’t further affect the mill levy.
The budget proposed by Webb includes:
• One mill increase for the general fund and one mill increase for the debt service fund;
• No new funding of the cemetery fund, which will operate through cash reserves
• No pay increases for city staff and firefighters. Uniform police will receive the raise already determined by their union contract.
• Hiring of assistant police chief in lieu of filling vacant fire chief position;
• Hiring two firefighter/paramedic positions, of which 85 percent will be covered by a federal grant;
• Funding retirement of police sergeant;
• Going from part-time clerk to fulltime clerk in municipal court;
• Increasing by 14.3 percent, the overall outlay for employee benefits, which is mostly as a result of the two new grant-funded firefighters;
• Replacement of two police patrol vehicles;
• Acquisition of equipment for police and fire departments (i.e. radios);
• Reduction of cash reserves in general, debt, street and sewer funds.
The specifics of these proposed items will be discussed at a yet-to-be-determined work session.
Council members and community members, however, continued to express their concern about some of the spending choices.
Gary Carpenter, who was the only person to speak at the budget public hearing, said he didn’t understand how the city was discussing the idea of hiring three new employees — two grant-funded firefighters and an assistant police chief — when most other cities in the country are laying off workers and requiring furlough days.
“Everyone else is laying people off and here we are getting ready to hire an assistant chief and two firemen,” he said. “I don’t understand that. I don’t think we need them. (The city staff) is going to have to buckle down. Everyone is making cuts.”
Carpenter also pointed out that one of the conditions of the grant is that after two years, the city is required to keep the employees on staff a minimum of another year. Carpenter said if the city couldn’t afford those salaries now, how did it expect to pay them in two years.
In other business Monday, the council:
• Approved, 5-0, for the city administrator to enter into a contract with Cook, Flatt and Strobel Engineering for construction design services for Edwardsville Drive. The total contract amount is $119,760.
• Approved, 5-0, a picnic and music festival permit to Paul Hilderbrand, who will be playing host to a charity event to raise funds for his church’s efforts involved with Katrina relief.
The event will be Aug. 21 in the 400 block of South 100th Street.