Possible raise in city property taxes for next fiscal year

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

Though the official numbers have not been received from Coles County, there is a chance that the city will have a property tax increase for the next fiscal year.

The Charleston City Council met Tuesday in City Hall where they voted to approve the tax levy ordinance for the fiscal year starting May 1st, 2016 and ending April 30th, 2017.

Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs said with all the construction that has been happening, the county does not have all of the new information from the construction.

“We do not have enough information at this time from the county because they are still working on finalizing the values, but we have some estimated amounts,” Combs said. “An estimated increase in the property taxes for a house worth $100, 000 would be around $4.35.”

The council voted to approve the ordinance, placing it on file so the public and Charleston residents can review it and give their input if they would like during the next meeting where the council will vote on the ordinance again.

Before the council voted on the tax levy ordinance, they voted to approve the Fire and Police Pension fund Board report.

The council receives the report before they do the tax levy because it gives the city a chance to see what the responsibilities are for the pension.

The council also voted to enter into a contractual agreement with Eastern for Geographical Information System, or GIS, Support Services.

Council member Jeff Lahr said there has been a contract with Eastern for about 10 years.

The GIS service with Eastern helps the city with mapping out where different items are on the city map.

Lahr gave the example if the city needs to see where all the manholes are to get into the sewers, a layer will be made so it can be put over the map of the city.

“They can provide it at a reasonable rate because they hire students and they also have the technical expertise because they teach in the class there,” Lahr said. “If our people need any assistance, they provide that as well.”

Lahr said the GIS system is more of an “as needed” service provided by the university.

The council also voted on two resolutions involving the contract with Good Energy, LP in New York.

Good Energy, LP is the consulting service that the city hired to help with energy price negotiations to get the lowest energy costs for the residents of Charleston.

Combs said Good Energy, LP is able to tell what is a good deal so the city can provide the lowest rates to the residents.

The City Council voted to allow City Manager Scott Smith to sign an agreement for the supply of electricity to the residents if needed.

“Sometimes these things come quick and this was the council giving him the power to go ahead and sign once we get a good locked in price,” Combs said. “Sometimes it has to be signed within 24 hours and we don’t have a council meeting to approve it, trusting in Scott to make the best decision for us.”

Charleston residents have a right to deny the energy services provided by the city and go with a different company if they choose to.

The council also approved the consent agenda, consisting of the meeting minutes from the Nov. 17th meeting, Payroll for the pay period for Nov. 14th, and bills payable for December 4th.


Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]