Tort insurance costs are expected to increase by 10.2 percent in 2014 and to avoid having to tap into the general fund and water and sewer fund in 2015, Cannon suggested levying more money to make up that difference.
First Ward alderwoman Barb Mask understood the need to increase and change the property tax allocations, but expressed her concern with how the citizens would react.
“How do we justify to the public the increase?” asked Mask.
The best way, according to Cannon, is explaining that when the tax base becomes smaller, the obligation to provide that levy becomes heavier on the remaining base.
“Part of our revenues that come in depend on our population,” Cannon said. “We’ve had a 12 percent decrease in population since 2000. So, at that rate the contribution from the state declines; the sales tax revenues, the income tax revenues, decline. That taxable base becomes smaller and if you hold property taxes steady then you’re going to run into a deficit.”
With the approval of Monday’s property tax levy proposal, property owners will now pay an additional 21 cents for every $1,000 of property value. Although there is an increase, Russell feels comfortable because the city will still be able to maintain a low tax base, averaging about $1 a day for the city offered services.
“I have no problem defending 4.35 percent at all,” Russell said. “Everybody’s in the same boat and valuation is critical these days.”