Pensions and Fees Dominate City Council Talk

10-13-14 GCCThe City of Galesburg wants to raise property taxes as much as four-and-a-half percent, and for the most part, pensions are to blame.

The City Council last night heard about the proposed $8.2 million request for the city’s share of property tax monies to be paid next year. Of that, several million dollars will go toward police and fire pensions — something partially funded out of the city’s general fund last year.

If you don’t like the fact property taxes may go up to pay for pensions, City Manager Todd Thompson says there’s an alternative.

“The city’s in a difficult position,” Thompson said.  “The state makes the rules relative to fire and police pensions, and we have to pay for them.  I would just encourage people, if they look at this and are concerned, that they might take the opportunity to make their voices hears with the State Legislature.”

Thompson says there are 600 different fire and police pensions in Illinois, and cities have advocated for years consolidating those into one system, similar to what other states have done.

Mayor John Pritchard says the city would save considerable money that way.

Aldermen looked at a host of proposed fees, fee consolidations, and fee increases last night as well, as part of next year’s budget. Thompson says most of the increases are “fairly minimal.”

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