Come March 2020 on Election Day, voters in Metropolis will once again have the question to vote on of whether or not to allow a tax increase not to exceed 1 percent on the selling price of tangible personal property. Last time voters were faced with this question, the revenue was to be used for repairs to the Massac County Courthouse. This time those revenues would be used for municipal operations, expenditures on public infrastructure or property tax relief according to the ordinance the Metropolis City Council approved Monday night.
Mike Hall, Ward 1, voted no, and Chad Lewis, Ward 4, was absent from the meeting.
During the corporate counsel report to the council, Rick Abell explained the ordinance presented before the aldermen. According to Abell and Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel, due to increasing expenses and mandates made by the State of Illinois that the city can not afford, as well as a decrease in general fund revenues which includes gaming revenue, this is a needed tax for city operations. He noted specifically the police and fire pension funds.
The amount of money put into the police and fire pension funds is mandated by the Illinois Department of Insurance based on several factors including number of employees, whether they are active or retired and their ages. The budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year requires $347,000 be placed in the fire pension and $510,000 be put into the police pension fund for a total of $857,000.
"I would want to fund these pensions to the best of our abilities. These guys have worked their whole lives for us," said McDaniel.
The wording of the question on the ballot is worded in accordance with Illinois law. It will read "Shall the Corporate Authorities of the City of Metropolis, Illinois be authorized to levy a tax at a rate of 1% for expenditures on municipal operations, expenditures on public infrastructure or property tax relief?"
"I don't blame Rick for how this is worded. I think we should be truthful, though. I've said all along that if it couldn't say on the ballot that it was for the police and fire pensions that I would vote no," said Hall.
The tax would not be applied to food for human consumption off premises, prescription and non-prescription medicines, medical appliances, insulin, urine testing materials, syringes and needles used by diabetics, and items titled or registered with an Illinois State Agency.
If the sales tax is passed in March, the earliest it would go into effect would be July.
Also during the corporate counsel report, the council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with Massac Memorial Hospital to share costs of city permits and installations for the hospital's redevelopment project at the Massac Memorial Clinic. The estimated total cost of the project is $3.3 million.
The city has agreed to waive the normal building permit fee and sewer tap-on fee and will contributed half of the cost of the proposed 4" metered water tap, standard commercial 3- phase electric tap and proposed electric extension at an estimated amount of $11,135.
The council also approved Ordinance 2019-25 amending Title V Public Works, Chapter 51 Garbage Code of Metropolis making it illegal to remove contents from trash containers that is not an authorized collector employed or contracted by the city or the owner, occupant, tenant or person in possession of the premises the container is on.
Any person, firm or entity who violates this will be fined no less than $100 plus court costs nor more than $750 plus court costs.
In other business, the council:
• Approved the renewal of Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust which is the city's general liability and property casual insurance provider.
• Approved the renewal to Illinois Public Risk Fund.
• Approved a letter of commitment to AeroSource H, a new business now located in the former Land of Lincoln building in the Industrial Park.
• Approved an annual software maintenance payment to ESRI for GIS software in the amount of $3250.
• And, approved the purchase of property at 408 W. 11th St. for the purpose of demolition.