By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
Low taxes could mean a better business environment, but city officials are trying to figure out if it is enough to draw in new entrepreneurs and homeowners.
Aldermen passed a tax levy ordinance for fiscal year 2013 for a total amount of $444,407.
The finance committee reviewed the amounts needed and recommended a 3.6 percent increase from last year, with no public hearing needed. This taxation applies to all taxable property within the corporate limits of the city of Fulton.
“It’s always a tough call, but I think it’s a prudent call,” Mayor Larry Russell said. “Houses are not selling for what they used to and we need to generate enough to build up our reserves again.”
The Equalized Assessed Valuation has decreased by approximately 3.2 percent from last year. Additional funds needed for Tort insurance will come from the general, water and sewer and marina funds.
“Our EAV will and can recover if we begin to realize housing, commercial or industrial growth,” City Administrator Randy Balk said.
Aldermen were in agreement on taking the approach.
“We want to be conservative to provide Tort Insurance,” Alderman Randy Boonstra said. “We’ve had a few businesses leave and none have replaced them yet.”
Bringing in a new business and some new homeowners isn’t enough, but a good beginning, according to Boonstra.
“We need more than a few houses,” Boonstra said. “We need to get more people to build here. We need more incentives for businesses and homeowners.”
Boonstra recommended creating an Ad Hoc committee to work with the Fulton Chamber of Commerce to look into strategies to promote growth. The city will continue to pursue economic development in a variety of ways including the recent partnership with the nearby Illinois cities of Morrison and Sterling to form the Northwestern Illinois Housing Coalition.
· Aldermen approved an ordinance abating taxes levied for year 2012 to pay the principal of and interest on $2,353,000 in general obligation bonds. The tax heretofore levied for 2012 in the ordinance in the amount of $179,329 is hereby abated in its entirety for the city of Fulton, according to the ordinance.
· Aldermen approved a Christmas bonus for all city employees in the amount of $200 for full-time employees and $100 for part-time employees.