Belvidere city council vote on tax levy has the Ida Library making tough decisions in the new year

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The city of Belvidere had until 5pm Friday to decide if it would pass a tax levy after a heated city council meeting on Monday ended in a tie.  A special session had to be called called to come to an agreement on the levy before the holidays.  Belvidere city leaders vote in favor of a tax levy, but avoid raising property taxes on residents.  While officials are glad it did pass, they say the amendment to not raise taxes has repercussions.

“I’m signing this right now, it’s on its way to the County Clerk. So we got it done and executed in time”, Mayor Mike Chamberlain said.

At the emergency council meeting in Belvidere, nine aldermen finally came to an agreement on the 2019 tax levy.  Originally the levy suggested an increase in property tax for some residents but after listening to their constituents, aldermen voted the levy in only if it taxes did not increase.

“With us raising the gas tax and the sales tax that we did earlier this year that people were tired – just to not have an increase”, 3rd Ward Alderman, Thomas Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff continued, “we didn’t vote an increase, but we did vote for the same as last year so at least we have something”.

With no the increase amendment the money projected from the taxes,  over $160, 000 for the city and $23,000 for the library, will not come in.  Mayor Mike Chamberlain says it won’t be a huge hit for the city but the library will take the brunt of the impact.

Mayor Chamberlain explains, “for the city in terms of, will we be able to serve our community the way that we need to, we certainly will but taking that money off the table just means that’s money we’ve lost”.
“But the library is the big issue because that represents $23,000 and to them that’s all of their raises and other expenses”, added Mayor Chamberlain.

Ida Library Treasuer Joe Fortmann says,  without the $23,000 cuts will be necessary.  He’s not sure if it means just programs or staff as well, but a back up plan was made in case the levy didn’t pass.

“We hoped it wouldn’t happen, but what we need to do is get together and talk about, how we’re going to – what the practicality of this cut is going to be”, said Fortmann.

Fortmann says, library heads will be getting together after the holidays to figure out specifics on  where cuts are going to be made.

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