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Council approves 4.99 percent levy increase

December 6, 2018

ROCK FALLS – The City Council on Tuesday approved a 4.99 percent tax levy increase, which will keep the city on track to fund its police and fire pensions at the 90 percent statutory minimum by 2040.

The increase in the city’s portion of a property owner’s tax bill means that the owner of a $71,000 home will pay an additional $14.58 a year in taxes. That estimate is based on the median fair market value of a home in Rock Falls.

In order to stay below the 5 percent mark that triggers a public hearing, the city will transfer money from its Social Security and Medicare reserve fund to reduce the levy increase for fiscal year 2019. At its Nov. 20 meeting, the council unanimously approved the finance committee’s recommendation that $34,351 be transferred from reserves for that purpose.

The council was presented another option, one with a goal of funding the pensions at 100 percent – beyond the statutory minimum. That option would have brought a 16.7 percent increase in the city’s portion of residents’ tax bills. It would have added an estimated increase of $71 a year to the tax bill of an owner of a $71,000 home.

The city’s requested extension for fire pensions is $401,771, a 15.47 percent increase from last year. For police pensions, the $508,351 extension represents a 8.5 percent jump.

Last year’s tax levy increase also came in at 4.99 percent, down from much larger jumps of 15.32 percent and 10.09 percent the previous 2 years.

Alderman resigns

The council also accepted two resignations during Tuesday’s session.

First Ward Alderman George Logan Jr. submitted his letter to the city on Nov. 26, citing personal reasons. His resignation was effective Nov. 30.

Logan, a retired businessman, was on the council for more than 4 years. He first was appointed in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Mark Vandersnick, who had moved from the ward.

“We’re very thankful for George’s service to the city,” Mayor Bill Wescott said. “He was born and raised here, and his father had a long history of service, too.”

George Logan Sr. was a former Rock Falls fire chief who worked for the city for 35 years. His son moved to the business side of fighting fires, specializing in fire equipment sales.

Logan’s term doesn’t expire until 2021, so the mayor’s appointee will have a chance to settle in before making the decision to run for the position.

With the city at a critical juncture in its riverfront and economic development plans, Wescott wants to fills Logan’s seat as soon as possible.

“I’ve talked to some people – letting them know what’s going on in the city and trying to determine whether they have time for committee work,” Wescott said. “I am hoping to have someone to recommend to the council at the next meeting.”

The council also accepted the resignation of Sylvia Frey, a longtime secretary for the Building and Public Works departments. The 18-year city employee’s last day will be Jan. 18.

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